Change My Ways

What defines a person; is it the mistakes in their past, or is it the ratio of good things they have done versus the bad things?   We can’t hide the garbage in our lives; sooner or later, it will begin to stink.  As humans, we have a choice whether we will be good or bad, but as a Christian that choice is our obligation.  Since Christianity is true, why are not all Christians obviously nicer than all non-Christians?  When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world.  We must begin to ask ourselves if being good and bad are the same things as being right and wrong.  How is it that we can constantly fail to practice behavior that we expect from other people?  How we behave and how we should behave has been commonly discounted to simply human nature.   C.S. Lewis wrote, “This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that everyone knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it.”  The way we treat people and act around them has a profound influence on them.  Relationships don’t thrive because the guilty are punished; they thrive because the innocent are merciful.  Look at animals we covet as pets.  They think they are human because we treat them like humans. When they pass, it causes tremendous grief.  My dog of 14 years just passed and she was convinced she was a human because we treated her like a human.  Put it this way: we change babies’ diapers for just the beginning of their life, but we clean up cat and dog poop their entire life; that is love!  Though my experience with death is limited, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain God felt watching His Son die for all of us: people He had never  met and for people who never even had heard of Him.  He died for people who cursed His name and for the very people that took His life.  Asking a parent to sacrifice a child is unfathomable; that is why God did it.

When we know right and wrong and still chose wrong, does that make it anymore wrong?  And when we chose to do the right thing, are we truly doing it for the right reason?  We must choose to do the right thing for the right reasons, not because someone was watching or because it might somehow benefit us.  Having morals is about knowing what we should do.  God created all of us with free will for a reason.   Even though having free will makes evil possible, to truly love something, you must be free to do so.  Being free to choose is profound.  Like an egg, we can hatch and learn to fly, or we can sit idle and go bad.  The choice is ours and the inherent responsibility is ours to decide what we are going to do with our lives.  What mark will we leave behind and how will people remember us?  Some people could care less, while most should care more.  People who don’t even know you can remember you by the way you treat them.  When people see and hear us, they should see and hear Jesus in us.  This unfortunately, most of the time, is not the case.  People don’t have a problem with Jesus; their problem is with Christians and our judgmental attitudes and our actions that contradict our Lord’s commandments.  When someone treats a complete stranger better than he or she treats someone close, that is a huge problem.  We are to love others as we love ourselves. 

God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.  When He comes into our life, it is like an “Extreme Home Makeover” edition.  We ask for a trim, but get a shave.  We may want new flooring, but instead entire rooms are demolished and new floors are built.  For Christ to live and thrive in us, change has to happen.   The question we need to ask ourselves is not what we intended ourselves to be, but instead what God intended for us to be.  Change is a process and the first step to changing the way we are is to change the way we speak and think.  If we want to know what we will be like in five years, all we need to do is listen to ourselves.  What we say reveals what is truly in our heart.  Our words can curse our future or they can bless it; they can tear someone down, or they can build them up.  Our words have the power to heal, but so many times, we use them to hurt. Solomon tells us, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  We can use our words to change our situation as Romans 4:17 says, “We have to call the things that are not as they were.”  We must stop speaking defeat over our lives by telling ourselves that change is not possible.   Real change must happen deeper than at the surface.  The more we talk about being tired, the more tired we are going to become.  Instead of talking about the way things are, we need to talk about the way we want them to be.  When Christ comes into our lives, we sometimes think that everything is going to be easier.  I wish this were the case, but in most cases, life can be harder.  When someone is taken off-guard, a good indicator of what type of person they are can be found by their initial reaction.  Did that person become angry or did they remain calm?  Did they blame others or did they look to God for answers.  Once I realized that everything I needed could only come from God, a real change began to take place in my life.  God’s “Extreme Home Makeover” turned my run-down crack-house of a life into a sanctuary paradise in a lost and hurting world.  Christ didn’t sacrifice His life so we could go from being a miserable sinner to a miserable Christian; He died so that restoration could take place in our lives.  When something is restored, it is made better.   When God “moved that bus” His dwelling place became my refuge.  Though, I have had a major overhaul in my own life, He is not done yet.  He is still working on me and I can’t wait to see what project we will be doing together next.  We must continue to pray that God keep working on us and that He uses the Holy Spirit to convict us of any projects that need to be started.  The power of prayer is most clearly seen in the presence of faith.  God wants us to ask Him for His help and He wants us to be dependent upon Him.  I will close with something Smith Wigglesworth said, “God is more eager to answer than we are to ask.”  Talk to God and don’t be surprised when He talks back; just get ready to listen.

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