After the initial performance of Handel’s Messiah in Dublin on April 13, 1742, George Frideric Handel received acclaim much greater than any expectation he could have imagined. The Dublin News-Letter gushed how the oratorio “far surpass[ed] anything of that Nature which has been performed in this or any other Kingdom.” In a letter Handel penned to a friend soon afterwards, however, he wrote, “I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wished to make them better.”
Reading the Scriptures, we get the sense that God’s teaching intends to make us better—to transform our lives. After a lengthy listing of instructions for living in Christ, Paul tells the Ephesians that the result of all this information should be a renewed life. “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life,” he writes. “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” (Ephesians 4:22-23). When God takes residence in us, the way we think, act, and view ourselves and our world begins to shift.
If we’re to live true to God’s life in us, we can no longer malign others—even if we disagree with them (Ephesians 4:25). We can no longer allow anger, violence, or a vindictive spirit to motivate us—even if we feel threatened or wronged (Ephesians 4:26). We can no longer use our economic power to abuse or oppress others—even if it’s “legal” and saves us a buck (Ephesians 4:28). We can no longer degrade others with sarcasm or words that wound—even if it’s socially acceptable (Ephesians 4:29).
To follow Jesus means we allow God to transform the whole of our life. We allow God to make us better.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Ephesians 1:3-23
Read Ephesians 4:20-32 and list the practical ways God’s transforming work is revealed in us.
Where do you want God to make you better—to transform your life by the power of the Holy Spirit? How might your actions this week reflect God’s desire for your life to be renewed and made whole?