In late winter and early spring, before new plant growth occurs, there are still a few trees that are holding on to their brown and withered leaves. Through the entire winter season, the trees have clung tenaciously to those dry and dead appendages.
At some point, though, those leaves must fall. They cannot stay forever. Otherwise there would be no place for the new leaves to sprout and grow. The old must be gone to make room for the new.
That reminds me of something my friend, Paul, said. To both the Church at Ephesus and the one at Colossae, Paul wrote about “putting off the old self” and “putting on the new self.” (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10) Just like those leaves, there needs to be a putting off of one so the other can be put on.
Yet, there is a difference between us and those trees. It is a seemingly natural part of their existence to let go of those old leaves. We, on the other hand, need to make a conscious choice. To be sure, it is God Who empowers us to do it, but our will is still involved. He won’t force us to put off our old self. It is a cooperative effort. He will cause the new self to grow, but the old self has to go first.
May you, by His grace, put off the old.