The start of a new year is always a good time to reset and write down goals for the next weeks and months ahead.
For Christians, we might naturally reflect on how well we kept up with our spiritual disciplines and decide if we need to renew our commitment to do better - "This year, I will read my Bible every day"… "This year I will pray every morning before I get out of bed"… "This year I will tithe"… "I will go to church"…
Spiritual disciplines are good because we are creatures of habit (What's 'not good' is becoming pharisaical about it and preach that religiously practicing spiritual disciplines can get us to heaven. It can't.)
Most people think that the main spiritual disciplines are reading the Bible, prayer and fasting. But we forget about 'detoxing'. Just like how our physical bodies need to get rid of impurities to stay healthy, sometimes we need to examine our spiritual lives and get rid of impurities to continue a healthy relationship with God and others.
For a Good Spiritual Detox: Use Colossians Chapter 3 Verses 5 to 14
Paul gives us helpful and straightforward instructions to examine our lives and "Put to death… sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry" (Colossians chapter 3 verse 5).
Get rid of it and stay far away from those things.
Put 'parental controls' on your browser if you need to, cut yourself off from things that might tempt you to sin. Give away your stuff to break hold the temptation of greed.
The build up of dirty thoughts and habits could eventually destroy us. It erodes our souls and changes our behaviour, ultimately hurting ourselves and those around us.
In verse 8, Paul suggests more things to get rid of out of our system: "anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." 2020 was a stressful year. We've accumulated a lot of anger and rage from all the disruptions and uncertainties thrown at us, not to mention the financial burden that's weighing on us. It's hard to be angry at a virus, so instead, we shift our anger towards the ones closest to us… towards the ones who might be living with us.
Now is a good time to let go of the anger and rage inside. Now is the time to replace any filthy language with good words that build up and affirms others.
Put on a New Self
Once we've recognised and started getting rid of the bad things that's ruining our spiritual health, we can move into putting on a new self.
Paul says, "put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator… clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience… And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity" (Colossians chapter 3 verses 10 to 14).
This passage tells us that the more we know God, the more we are able to be renewed to become more like Him. We won't become God, but we will be restored to the image of God that we were created to be (see Genesis chapter 1 verse 27).
Our God is compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient, so the more we know who He is and how He demonstrates these qualities, the more we will be able to - and want to - become more like Him.
If we're able to first get rid of our evil desires and greed, we allow room in our lives to welcome compassion and kindness. If we're able to get rid of our anger and filthy language, we will allow room in our lives to welcome gentleness and patience.
The pattern Paul shows us is to, firstly, 'get rid of…' and then 'put on…'
Jesus has died on the cross to take away our sins so that the Spirit may enter into our lives.
Let's start the year well by doing some serious spiritual detoxing and making room for the Spirit and good things to fill our hearts and minds.
Rachel is the children and youth pastor at Northern Life Baptist Church in Sydney. She loves volleyball, reading and a good TV drama! She has recently finished studying a Master of Divinity at Morling College and she’s continuing further studies towards another Masters.