MAKING THE CHANGE!
Do you have a habit you long to get rid of? Is there something in your life you want to see changed? We all understand we are far from perfect and that there are a lot of things in us that need fixing. We try so hard not to lie or steal or gossip or whatever it might be and we fail. Then we get discouraged and wonder if we are ever going to change.
There are two things we need to realise.
1. we can't, on our own efforts, change ourselves or get rid of a bad habit. We need God's help. We need the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, he is able to change us. Someone may, by sheer force of will, be able to stop lying for a while, but when they find themselves in a pinch they will fall back to their old ways. I know this from experience. I'm using lying here as an example but the same works for anything that needs to be changed in us. Only the Holy spirit of God working in our lives is able to make permanent changes. We need to cooperate with Him of course, but we can't make the change on our own. God is willing to help us, we just need to ask him. It won't happen overnight but it will happen.
2. it's not enough just to stop doing something that we used to do, we need to replace it with something new. It's not enough for me to not tell lies anymore, I need to speak the truth. it's not enough for me to stop gossiping, I have to learn to speak words that encourage and uplift others. It's not enough to stop thinking negative thoughts, we have to start thinking positively.
Jesus told a story that relates to this:
When an evil spirit leaves a person, it travels through the desert, looking for a place to rest. But when the demon doesn't find a place, it says, “I will go back to the home I left.” When it gets there and finds the place empty, clean, and fixed up, it goes off and finds seven other evil spirits even worse than itself. They all come and make their home there, and the person ends up in worse shape than before.
[Matthew 12:43-45a CEV]
I may deal with the subject of demon possession another day, but I shared this story to make a point. The person was delivered, the problem was gone, but the process of change wasn't fully complete, his house or spirit was empty. If the person had gotten saved then the Holy spirit would be living in him and therefore when the demon came back to check things out, it would know there was no hope of moving back in.
Without progressing to phase two, change will never be fully accomplished. god will help us with this too if we ask him. He will show us how to replace the bad things in our lives with good things.
We can't just move onto phase two without doing phase one, allowing god to clean up our lives and get rid of the bad things like lying or stealing or whatever it may be. Once God has cleaned up the mess then he will help us replace it with good thoughts and actions.
One more thing I would say about change. Don't expect it to happen instantaneously. sometimes god will deliver us straight away from some bad habit or other problem in our lives, other times he expects us to go through the process. Though it's hard, there are several advantages to this, including:
A. we learn to depend on god more than before, since it is only by his help that we are able to make any progress.
B. we become more grateful and thankful for all that god has done and is doing in our lives. gratitude is important. It is right to thank God for his many blessings and for all his help.
C. We learn patience and endurance, and these are things that we need in our Christian walk.
D. Having gone through all this to get free of some habit or other we learn to think seriously before we start doing another thing that has the potential of being habit-forming. A person who has been freed from alcohol addiction will probably think twice before they take up smoking.
Change is never fun or easy but it is certainly something we all need to do at some point. If we know someone who is trying to make a big change in their life we can help by praying for them and encouraging them. Sometimes we can act as accountability partners, for that person. Knowing that I have someone who I will be talking to about how well I did this week might help me not to give into temptation so easily. Of course, we need to have accountability partners who we can trust, who won't tear us down but encourage us and pray with us.
God can free us from the most destructive habits that were holding us back from being the people he meant us to be, and fill our lives with new and beautiful things. Then we are a living testimony to the power of god and we are able to help those who are having the same kind of problems we went through.
May God bless you all!