April 18, 2007


Colossians 3:5-11

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature ... Colossians 3:5


Elizabeth Berg in the novel The Year of Pleasure tells about a Navajo grandfather who says to his grandson: "Two wolves live inside me. One is the bad wolf, full of greed and laziness, full of anger and jealousy and regret. The other is the good wolf, full of joy and compassion and willingness and a great love for the world. All the time these wolves are fighting inside me."

"But grandfather," the boy said, "which wolf will win?"

The grandfather answered, "The one I feed."

It's a good story. There are times in all of our lives when it's most helpful to ask, "Do I really want to feed this anger? Or this lust? Or this envy? Paul appears to say something similar in our passage when he tells us to get rid of--to starve--sinful practices.

Yet the story, as good as it is, is incomplete. It assumes that the self who chooses whether to feed the good wolf or the bad wolf is untainted in its judgments. But, of course, it isn't. The ways of the good and bad wolves infect the very core of our being. We rationalize and justify our sins all the time; we're masters at putting a good face on the evil we do.

Paul tells us not only to starve our sinful practices but also to drown our old self in the waters of baptism so that we may put on the new self, Christ.

Lord Jesus, we want you on the throne of our lives to guide us in all our decisions, all we think, say, and do. Be the Lord of our lives, we pray. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Jack Roeda

Rev. Jack Roeda is the senior pastor at Church of the Servant Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an adjunct professor of preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary. He is married to Carol Sue Kok, and they have three children and two grandchildren. Pastor Roeda has served two previous churches: Exeter (Ont.) Christian Reformed Church and Calvary Christian Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan.

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