I was amazed many years ago to find out what Weight Watchers at the time was suggesting for a diet. Green beans! Tons of them! “How in the world could that be good for a diet? Is there some special fat-melting ingredient found in this food?” I thought. In time, of course, I found out that there was nothing especially fat-melting about them; the reason for this diet requirement was to fill the dieter, so that the dieter wouldn’t have any room left for the high calorie stuff. “Ah-ha,” I thought, “now that makes good sense.” And it makes good sense in other areas of life, too, I’ve discovered.
Paul told the Ephesian brethren (Ephesians 4:22-25) to fill their lives up with good deeds…
“that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
And then he followed up with the beginning of a list of examples…
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.”
Get it? Laying aside the old self isn’t enough; you have to put on a new, Christ-like self. Putting it another way, it’s not enough to simply tell yourself, “I won’t sin, I won’t sin, I won’t sin!” All you’re thinking about it is the sin—and the probability is that you’ll eventually give in and fall into it. The better approach is to do the good, Christ-like, positive deeds as substitutes to the sinful—or in other words, “fill up with green beans”, the good stuff.
The Bible is full of commands and examples of good things to do. Christianity was never about just staying away from the sinful deeds. Jesus was no monk cloistered away from the world, so that He wouldn’t be tempted to do evil. On the contrary, He was fully engaged in the world we all live but FULL of good works, righteous deeds, uplifting words, good examples, faithful attitudes, and compassionate miracles. And strong, meaningful, sanctified (purified from sin deeds) Christianity follows Jesus in His goodness-filled living.
So what are those good things, the green beans of our spiritual life, that can fill our lives with goodness, so that no room is left for wrongdoing?
- Personal Bible reading, studying
- Time spent in prayer for others (have you seen the length of the list of needs in our congregation?)
- Church Bible studies
- Being a regular attender at all of the church’s assemblies
- Visits of encouragement (phone calls, cards, or physical visits)
- Helping older members of the congregation with things around the house
- Helping neighbors (and as a by-product, possibly getting opportunities to share the Gospel)
- Teaching or helping teach a children’s Bible class (and all the work that this entails)
- Going on short-term mission trips (domestic or abroad)
- Working with the teens
- Fellowship opportunities with other Christians including hospitality
- Church work opportunities like MNFM, VBS, benevolence work, GAD
- Hospital visits
- Mentoring of young people
Are you tired of just reading the list? That’s sort of the idea. But just think of the spiritual growth and the “putting away of sin” that such activity would generate in your life! Personal, full-tilt engagement with the good deeds found in the Bible (both with the church and apart from the church’s official activities) not only helps the church grow, not only helps us grow, but it also crowds out the old habits of sin. Someone has put it well, “If we were to do all the good things the Bible tells us to do, we wouldn’t have time to do the sinful things!”
Are you serious about wanting sin out of your life? Fill you life with the “green beans” of full-on, involved, committed Christianity; and watch the old sinful habits melt away like those unwanted pounds.