We’ve all had the experience of putting something together only to have to take it apart and start over. That’s ok if it’s only a piece of flat pack furniture, but it’s not okay if it’s your life. Your career … Your marriage … Your dreams … How do you break the cycle of mistakes and failed attempts? In this 4-part series, we offer practical advice to ensure that the next time won’t be like the last time.
When you are decorating you know that you need to prepare the walls and the door frames and skirting boards before you start painting them. If you just slap the paint on without any preparation it might look good for a while but then it will start to peel off. This is true for life too. If we don’t learn from our past mistakes or from difficult situations and rethink our actions and responses we will simply repeat the same outcomes.
Is there a better way? How can we learn from the past so we don’t repeat the same mistakes in the future?
Last week we talked about owning it, this week we are talking about rethinking it.
Paul was one of the first followers of Jesus and he made some huge mistakes. But he turned things around with God. In a letter he wrote to a church in Rome we can find some great wisdom for learning lessons from our mistakes. We are particularly interested today in chapter 12 verses 1-2. You can read it here: Romans Chapter 12.
Paul urges us to offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices. To offer the whole of ourselves to God because after all he has shown us such grace and mercy. That is our true and proper worship.
- That means we can’t raise our voices in songs in church and then go out into the world and use our words to hurt others.
- It means we shouldn’t sing uplifting words in church and then go out into the world and speak words of grumbling, complaining and moaning.
- It means we shouldn’t use the singing in church to build God up only to go into the world and tear people down.
- It means we shouldn’t worship in church and allow the songs to melt our hearts towards the love of God and then go out into the world and harden our hearts to others.
- It means we shouldn’t open our hands in worship in church and then go out into the world and for the rest of the week close our fists and not serve others.
And that is really important context for verse 2. God is after transformation not conforming to the world. If you allow yourself to be conformed to the pattern of this world, you’re just going to look like everyone else, have relationships like everyone else, be unhappy like so many others, be in debt like so many others, fritter away your one and only life. Being transformed is completely different. God is in the renewal business, but that only comes through the renewing of our minds.
Conforming is, but is that really what we want? Transformation takes intentionality, takes time, takes energy. Gathering together in our services helps. Being intentional about gathering with others transforms us. There are other tools too: small groups, friendships, getting together to talk or to pray of for accountability. Using our Next Steps journey here at ABC helps.
Don’t be conformed, instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind, because then you will know what God’s will is for you and you will take off the old and put on the new and next time will be so much better than last time.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion (on your own or in your small group)
- What’s one thing from your past, big or small, you wish you could “do over.” If you could go back in
time, what would you do differently?
- Talk about a time when you saw someone make a mistake even though everyone around him or her
warned that it was a mistake. Why do you think that person was unable to recognize that he or she
was making a mistake even though it was obvious to everyone else?
- When have you believed that if you only had something or someone, you’d be satisfied with your
life? If you finally obtained that something or someone, what was the result?
- Talk about a time when you made a mistake because you believed your situation was unique. How
did you discover you weren’t alone, that other people had experienced similar situations? How did
that change your perspective and your situation?
- Read Romans 12:1–2. What is one area of your life where you’re trying to put on the new without
first taking off the old?
- What is one thing you can do this week to begin to renew your mind in this
area? What can this group do to support you?
Listen to the full talk below…