A few years ago, when my husband first took our young grandsons to the tennis court to begin teaching them how to play tennis, their balls flew all over the place. The boys didn’t know how to direct their swing so that the balls would actually go over the net. Now, they’re getting better, and their balls mostly land where Grandpa can reach them.
A friend of ours intensively trained his daughters to play competitive tennis on the court that he had built at their home in Florida. I happened to be there one day when he was training one of the girls on her backhand. This stroke is a bit more unnatural to accomplish than the forehand, which uses a simple stroke on the same side of the body as the arm holding the racquet. With the backhand, players reach across their body and hit on the opposite side with the other side of the tennis racquet. Reaching down into his bucket of balls, the dad would throw them, one at a time, over the net to the spot where his daughter could easily reach and return the ball to him. He did this over and over. The girl was pretty competent at the time, and I wondered why she had to hit so many the same way for so long. The point with all this repetition, however, was that using the proper form would displace the old, awkward attempts at reaching for a ball on the opposite, unnatural side. Eventually, the movement would become natural and be very effective in returning the ball.
In the same way that my grandsons and my friend’s daughters learned the proper strokes in a sport, we Christians have to learn the behaviour of a child of God. It doesn’t come entirely naturally when we invite Jesus into our lives and decide to live His way. Although our spirit is renewed, we still have the old nature that we always had. We have to purpose to let the Holy Spirit help us to change our way of thinking and acting so that our new nature can become more habitual than the old one.
“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God — truly righteous and holy.” (Ephesians 4:21-24 NLT)
Notice that there is something that we have to do in the process of becoming more like God. The Holy Spirit helps us to “throw off” and “put on”.
“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me — everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9 NLT)
As on the tennis court, our lives are a constant practice to align our words and actions with our new natures. With repetition, our new nature becomes more and more natural until it becomes our modus operandi. Let’s keep practicing!
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your patience, and for Your Holy Spirit, Who helps us to practice our new nature until our nature becomes more and more like You. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Copyright © 2022, by Alice Burnett <email@example.com>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada