The Three-Day Diet
Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then . . . compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience and love . . .
As I am prone to extremes, I have, many times, gorged myself and then promised that I would starve to make up for it. If I don’t eat for three days, I can lose 10 pounds. My many failures did not stop me from trying the next time. It was always the same result though. After a few hours of starvation, I would lose control and binge again, ending up worse off than when I started.
I have, many times, tried to change by this method. Struggling with some destructive behavior, I have promised that I would stop for real this time. My only plan though, was to just never do it again. Like with my crash dieting, I did not replace my destructive behavior with constructive behavior. My appetite does not tolerate a vacuum, so, I always go back to the destructive behavior in a state of starvation, more addicted than I was before.
Paul, in today’s passage, insisted that we first put off the old but then we must put on the new. It is not enough to just crucify the old life. We must embrace the new one. We will always fill ourselves with something. We will either pursue satisfaction and meaning in the flesh life or in the spirit life. If we deny the old without pursuing the new, we will inevitably return to the flesh life. It is our natural state.
With my diet, it is not helpful to plan to stop eating. That is the plan of someone who only wants to change for a few hours or days. If I truly want to change, I must work at eating differently. I must put off the old habits and purposefully pursue new ones.
The same is true with the rest of my life. If I truly want change, I do not just abandon the old life, I must continually put on the new one. As Christ said, I must deny self and follow him.