That Which Shapes Us
December 23, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
The end of the year is as good of time as any to take stock and evaluate the things in our lives. How am I using my time? Are there areas in my life that receive too much focus or are neglected? How are my relationships? What about my habits? And, most importantly, what is the state of my faith in and walk with Christ? This sort of evaluation leads to resolutions for changes.
While the habit of New Year’s resolutions is not necessarily a biblical mandate, the principle behind a resolution is biblical. We are called to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1). Evaluation is needed to discover areas out of accord with a worthy manner. Even James says the Word of God is like a mirror to reveal areas of weakness. He condemns the one who looks into the mirror and walks away unchanged (Jms. 1:23-24). It is good to make resolutions like Paul makes in Galatians 2:20, “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.”
Can I encourage you to take stock and evaluate one, specific area of your life? What shapes you? What shapes your thinking, values, and choices? What has the greatest influence in your life?
We live at a time when influence is a big deal. “Influencers” are in the headlines on a regular basis. Concerns about the influence of social media on teens are raised and explored. People are at risk of being condemned all based upon the influences in their lives. News outlets do not merely report the facts but aim to influence how people should think about the facts. Movies are made not merely to entertain but to influence cultural and moral perspectives. No matter where we turn, someone is vying to influence us.
What is the greatest influence in your life? If we are mindless about how we are being influenced, we will easily be swept away by the current cultural initiatives.
Paul says in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” This exhortation is all about influence. Do not let the world, that system of rebellion against God and his ways, hold sway in your mind and shape your life. There must be an intentional resistance against the influence of the world.
But the mind cannot remain empty of influence. Our minds are made to be influenced and shaped by something. That’s why Paul immediately says be transformed by the renewal of your mind. There is one thing that renews our minds: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
How much influence does the Gospel have on your thinking, values, and choices?
Over the next four Sundays at Oak Hills, we will be exploring how the Gospel can shape us. God has appointed means for the Gospel to have influence in our lives: the Word, prayer, and sacraments. Do we allow such things to have the greatest influence in our lives?
After the hustle and bustle of Christmas, as you look ahead to the new year, take stock and evaluate: what shapes you? What has the greatest influence in your life?