Letting All Things Become New

I was on my way to work and I drove past a Dollar General, nothing abnormal about that. There was just something that wasn’t quite right about this particular Dollar General; it didn’t look the way most of them do. Something changed.

I glanced again before the light turned green and realized what the issue was – it looked like a Walgreens. Yep, you could tell that the building had previously been a Walgreens and now, it was something new. Funny how recycled stuff still carries the look of what it once was.

Now, initially, I wasn’t willing to accept this Dollar General as it is (funny, I know). Nope, I was disappointed that when I saw it, I saw Walgreens and not what it had become. I had half the mind to stop, go inside, and roam the aisles to see if I got that Walgreens feel or Dollar General feel. Then, the thought hit me: this is how we, as people of God, treat people of God.

I’m Not the Same Creature

Way too often, we look at fellow teammates and all we see is who they were, what they’ve been delivered from, who we grew up with – and we never really accept them for who they’ve become or are growing into. We even go as far as to do research and “walk the aisles” of their new life to see if they are really who they appear to be. There is that nagging tendency to remind people of their former self. “Girl, I remember when you used to…” “Aye man, remember when we used to…?”

The problem with this is that our Playbook says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things become new.” So, why do we hold on to other folk’s “old things”.

When we don’t allow others the chance to grow beyond who they were, we are keeping them in a place that God has released them from – we’re not letting those old things pass away. Who are we to hold anyone hostage to their past when we have a past of our own that we’ve stuffed in a closet? Just as we are to strive to live by Romans 12:2, we cannot forget that others are doing the same. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

So, What’s The Play Call?

Sadly, it seems tough to do the right thing sometimes. But, not because God isn’t present to help, and not because He hasn’t provided us with the grace to move beyond where we were. Often it’s because those who should be there to pray and support are continuously reminding others of how unsaved they used to be. So, how do we get past that “Walgreens Syndrome“? Here are a few reminders that will hopefully help:

  1. Allow others to do as our Playbook says, and “throw off” their old ways. We must be encouragers for one another, not discouragers. Ephesians 4:22-24 (New Living Translation) “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”
  2. Help your brothers and sisters to be free of their past, not hold it over their heads. It is scary when the only thing associating a child of God to their past is another child of God. Let’s celebrate each others’ newness and help each other stay “new”. Don’t join the enemy’s club – Team Accusers of the Brethren (Revelation 12:10). “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1
  3. Be willing to uplift one another. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
  4. Remember that we have all fallen and we are not perfect. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23

Tremaine Hawkins sang about the “Wonderful Change” that God brings. Don’t allow yourself to condemn others and forget that you’ve experienced that same change. Never forget that God is the Deliverer of all and no matter what someone’s past looked like, their future is bright in Him.

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