Dying to Live
I die every day! 1 Corinthians 15:31
Yesterday as I was riding my bike on the local trail, someone caught me from behind and passed me, going much faster than I was. I was irritated to see an older man whom I considered to be in much worse shape than me, yet still, he blew by me like I was a child with training wheels. I quickly realized that he had an electric bike, powered by an internal motor. I was annoyed and I found myself thinking evil thoughts. I hoped he got a flat tire or that his battery would run out, so he’d know what it was like to actually do the work of riding a bike. After a few seconds of fuming, I realized I was being ridiculous. What do I care if he has an e-bike? Why would I let that bother me?
I only tell this story to illustrate that I still have a thousand flaws. I may be sober, but I still struggle with pride, selfishness, resentment, and greed. I’m always surprised when people tell me that they don’t know what God could possibly want to change in their lives. I have so many defects that need to change. Daily I encounter new things I must work on and daily I must continue working on a lot of old things.
Several times, Paul echoed Christ in telling us that we must continually put to death our flesh nature – our old life – that we may know the new life. In today’s passage, he taught that it is because of Christ’s resurrection that we too can be born again into a new life. We won’t be perfect in this life, so daily, we must die to the old self and daily, we can be resurrected into a new self. The great paradox of Christianity is that we find peace and joy, not in living our way, but that we must daily die to truly live.
So, every morning, I look at my yesterday, taking inventory of my successes and shortcomings. I ask forgiveness for my failures, and I ask God what I must do to put my old ways to death. Then, I work on those things. In following my own appetite, I find frustration and misery. In putting my way to death – a little each day – I find life, joy and peace.
This is hard and not everyone can accept it. Many will reject the idea that they are flawed and need continual change. For those of us who are aware of the misery of our way though, we will gladly embrace the joy found only in the new life in Christ.