Monday, February 2nd

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God‑‑what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2


Sometimes I tend to get stuck in my thinking.  It happens to me on many levels.  There are times when I get an idea in my head and I quickly develop tunnel vision – I can’t see any other alternatives.


There are other times when I find myself reacting based on a particular mind-set that I can’t seem to shake; there too, try as I might, I can’t seem to step away from my own peculiar habitual responses.


And so, when I read in Romans of Paul’s admonition to be “transformed by the renewing of your minds”, it sounds pretty good to me.  I would love to have my mind renewed, to have a new set of ideas and assumptions about the world around me, a new set of attitudes, some new alternative ways of thinking, being, feeling.


One area where I could use some help from God in the “renewing of my mind” is how to handle the criticism that I often hear from others.  How to respond creatively and PROactively, rather than defensively and REactively, to words that sound, in my ears at least, as criticism.


The fact of the matter is that, as fallen human beings, fallible creatures, living in relationship with other fallible creatures, there will come times when everyone doesn’t agree.  And there will come times when we specifically disagree with one another.  Life is like that – we not only don’t always get our way, we also have to admit that our way is not always the right, and certainly never, the only way.


To be open to the “renewing of our minds” is where I need to begin.  I need to begin by admitting that, if I already had the resources at my disposal to handle difficult communications with grace and ease, I would already be doing it.  Since I don’t, I need to be open to some new information which might help.  And since this specific issue goes to the heart of many kinds of interpersonal relationships, there is more at stake than simply getting better at “winning friends and influencing people.”  Spirituality is at stake; our relationship with God often is affected by our relationships with others.


If we are not adept at hearing criticism from others, we run the risk of similarly closing ourselves off to the constructive criticism which the Spirit of God might be trying to bring into our lives.


Let us pray: Gracious Lord, your love has the power to transform our lives.  I ask for your guidance this week as I seek to learn from your Word how to grow in the ability to hear what I might perceive to be criticism.  I pray that you might join me, and all who will share in these devotions this week, in the search for transformation into a new openness to all kinds of communications, even those hard to hear.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


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