Have you ever started a sentence with the phrase “I used to…”?
“I used to be in shape.”
“I used to be an athlete.”
“I used to be involved in my church’s ministry.”
“I used to have a hobby.”
“I used to socialize with friends.”
“I used to have ambitions.”
I know what you’re thinking…
These are all negative examples of that phrase.
And you’re right.
Because that’s usually how we use that phrase. When we say, “I used to…”, it’s almost always accompanied with a tinge of regret.
But Jesus makes it possible to say “I used to…” in a positive way.
“I used to be controlled by my temper.”
“I used to use some pretty salty language.”
“I used to be very judgmental of others.”
“I used to be extremely impatient.”
“I used to be filled with shame.”
“I used to be lost in sin.”
Jesus has such a transforming effect that every follower of Christ ought to have a “I used to…” story.
That’s what the apostle Paul claims in Ephesians 2:1-10 (NLT, emphasis added):
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Did you see it?
The story of our lives can be described by the things we used to do before coming to Jesus and the things we now do because of Jesus.
So, what’s your “I used to…” story?
(Share it in the comments)