Sunday — October 30, 2004
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Identity

A $400 gift certificate to Outback Steak House. Had I bought one recently?

I appreciate a good steak as much as the next omnivore, but if I’m going to give a $400 gift, it won’t be for 20 trips to the same restaurant.

That wasn’t the issue, however. Someone else had bought the gift certificate, using my credit card. Thus began my closest brush to date with identity theft.

For me, the matter was resolved quickly; I called my bank and they canceled the card whose numbers were stolen; no other purchases had been made. For others, however, it’s not so simple. Every year, as many as 750,000 people suffer identity theft. Total losses—$2.5 billion.

In the worst cases, the damage can be extensive and can take years to repair. I feel blessed that I got off easier than the folks in those Citibank commercials—where the thief’s voice is dubbed into the victim.

I also feel blessed because I got a new identity myself. No, I wasn’t inspired to pursue an exciting hobby or wear a Halloween costume by the people who stole my card. Mine was a gift from God.

As Paul reminded the Colossians in his letter to them, our new life in Jesus gave us a new identity. Our old identity died when we were raised to new life in Him.

This new ID should create a different perspective, one that reflects our holy Identity-Giver. It does not cost some unsuspecting victim a ton of money, but it does cost us our lives.

Maybe we didn’t charge a bunch of new clothes on someone else’s credit cards, but we did pick up some new stuff to “put on.” Colossians 3 gives lots of practical advice on how to live out our new identity.

This new identity might not directly affect your bank account—especially at the expense of someone else’s. But it does help you store up riches in heaven. —John Carvalho

bottom line: In Jesus, we gain a new self.

Colossians 3:3-14
3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. . . . 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

• How would I feel if someone stole my identity and started spending my money? • How can I start reflecting my new identity in Christ? • Which quality in Colossians 3:12 do I need to work on?


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2003 RBC Ministries
Grand Rapids, MI 49555

Scripture quotations are from the New International Version 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society

Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers