Being fully aware of the need for change and improvement in many areas of my own life, it is helpful for me to consider the process and elements for life-long change. Like most Americans, I’m normally in a hurry to see results. I want it right now -today- not tomorrow or the next day. Being a Christ follower for many years, I have come to the understanding that many areas in my life in need of change did not come about overnight, and thus, probably will not change overnight either.
Here are some realities I have come to understand in regard to seeing Godly change take place in my life:
Many, if not most, of the attitudes or behaviors in which I want to see change, come about by making many small decisions or choices. In other words, even though a large choice I made may have been instrumental in bringing the need for change to my attention, there were many smaller choices that led up to that pivotal point. Small incorrect attitudes, accumulated over time, always lead to larger more discernable actions and behaviors. This reality can be encouraging or discouraging: in that making good choices lead to good behaviors or bad choices lead to wrong behaviors. The choices I make are the process – healthy or unhealthy.
We often think that our thoughts are just little, insignificant things. Yet, real change is learning and choosing to take those small thoughts seriously and knowing that they lead to better decisions and God-honoring behavior. I heard someone state recently, after making a horrendous choice in his life, “If I could just take back that ONE decision…,” not realizing that there were a string of ‘smaller’ wrong choices that led to that ONE choice.
Psalm 119:105 provides us with some vital truth as we seek to understand how change takes place in our lives or…does not take place.
Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105
Scripture not only provides the direction and trajectory for our lives to be honoring to Jesus, but also provides the needed moment by moment help. We need to pursue, absorb, and keep God’s Word. Change that is Godly comes from applying Biblical truth to our lives, and takes place as we pursue Jesus on the path of obedience – no matter how small those choices may be. Truth changes us. When Biblical truth is applied to all the ‘small’ areas of our lives the accumulative effect is no small thing. Years of making wrong/unbiblical choices produce sinful actions. Years of making Godly/Biblical choices produce healthy God-honoring actions.
Aspects that Influence Godly Change
When I think about the process of change in my life, or in the lives of others, there are three aspects that influence needed change in life:
God’s Word & the Holy Spirit
Absorbing our thinking processes in truth is vital. God’s Word, like no other, when applied with the help of the Holy Spirit, is a huge influence in our lives for change.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth. – John 14:15-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Being intentional in our relationships with other Christ followers – those who we have given freedom to speak into our lives at any time and in any way – also play an important part in seeing changes take place in life.
For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. – Proverbs 24:6
Am I willing to allow these influences to do their work in my life? The truth is, none of us can change anyone else. I do not possess any ‘super’ power in myself to change anyone, let alone myself. No matter how convincing, or timely, or well-placed the truth that God or others speak into my life, I must choose to accept it and make the needed changes.
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. – James 1:21-22
Whether we are seeking Godly change in our own lives, or in the lives of those we love and lead, it is a process. Sanctification is a lifelong work that Jesus has committed Himself to do in us. The Gospel – what Jesus accomplished for us and what we could not do for ourselves – is all the motivation needed to seek change. God begins and is faithful to complete that work in us, as He alone has the power to enact growth and change. Becoming more like Jesus in our thoughts results in becoming more like Jesus in our behaviors. There is no ‘overnight’ delivery. It simply is a journey of understanding and hence choosing to obey God in the little day to day choices. Those very choices will lead us down a path of true Biblical change. And not only that, we have the promise from God’s Word that He will uphold His end of the deal and continue to transform us from the inside out.