Do you remember when LeBron James played for the Cavaliers?
I mean the first time he played for them. LeBron was drafted by the Cavs in 2003 and led them to the NBA Finals in 2007, which they ultimately lost in four games to the San Antonio Spurs.
In 2010, LeBron famously “took his talents to South Beach” and became a member of the Miami Heat, teaming up with good friends Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Cleveland fans were furious. Some burned his jersey and many said they’d never forgive him for switching teams. He quickly became one of the most hated people in northern Ohio.
In 2014, after four straight NBA Finals appearances and two titles with the Miami Heat, LeBron surprised everyone again and came back to Cleveland. Suddenly, just four years later, Cleveland fans celebrated his return, went out and bought all new LeBron jerseys, and cheered him as he led the Cavs to the NBA Finals in consecutive seasons, finally winning one for the Cavs this past summer.
It’s amazing how much the clothes we wear matter and that something as simple as taking off one uniform and putting on a new one can cause such a night-and-day reaction from so many of the very same people. This is exactly the kind of dramatic change we read about in Colossians 3 that those who accept Christ as savior are to have in the way they think and live.
In verses 1–4 we’re told that when we accept Christ as savior, our mind, our thoughts, and the things we focus our energy on are not to be the things of the world but rather the things of Jesus.
What does this mean? What are the things of this world and what are the things of Christ?
Verses 5–8 show us what the things of the world are: sexual immorality, lust, evil desires, greed, idolatry, anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, dirty language, and so on. It’s not hard to find these things in the world; they show up easily in the things we watch and encounter on our televisions and devices each day. If we aren’t intentional about what we put on—or focus our attention on—it would be easy as followers of Jesus to have our minds and actions revolve around these things.
We see in verses 9–11 God’s desire for us to take those things off like a disgusting old shirt (or, in the case of LeBron James, a Miami Heat jersey) and toss it in the trash. Jesus gave us a new, better shirt to wear and He wants us to put that on instead.
I think it’s a good thing that God doesn’t just make a list of things we’re not supposed to do. Life is full of rules and lists of things we’re not supposed to do. Yet instead of just saying, “don’t”, God lets us know what things we can and should do. Research has shown that when we want to quit doing something, the most effective way to do that is to replace that action with something else (hopefully something positive and better). God knows this, and in verses 12–15 He tells us not only to not set our minds on the things that aren’t good, but to replace them with the things that are good. These are those things He wants us to put on ourselves, to do, and to think about and live out each day: mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, love, peace, thanksgiving, and so on.
How do we put these things on each day? Just like you get to choose what clothes you want to put on each day, we need to make a decision about the spiritual things with which we’re going to adorn ourselves. When you start each day, do you fill your heart and mind with the things the world has to offer, or do you fill your heart and mind with the things God desires you to focus on and live out?
This is why spending time meditating on God’s Word and communicating with Him in prayer are critically important. Just like the clothes we put on in the morning stay with us throughout our day, how we clothe ourselves spiritually each day stays with us as well. And if you’re wearing a “Miami” jersey, you can choose to replace it.
How will you dress yourself when your day starts tomorrow?
Matt Vosberg is the Pastor of Student Ministries. He and his family moved to Columbus in 2009. His wife, Marianne, is a native Buckeye, while Matt hails from northern Indiana. Together they have three young children. Both attended and met at Grace College. Matt worked for Youth for Christ in northern Indiana for four years before serving as a Youth Pastor in Pennsylvania for five years. Matt studied Youth Ministry and Counseling (Grace College).