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Change, Possibility of
by Rubel Shelly
Published in LoveLines (Mar. 10, 1993)
People can and do change. It isn't easy. It doesn't happen all at once. And it certainly doesn't happen without effort, pain, and an occasional setback ¾ sometimes major in nature. But it happens.
Yet, I may have just seriously misstated things. Saying that people "can change" (active verb) and "do change" (active verb) would more correctly be stated this way: People are changed (passive verb) when they allow God to work in their lives.
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world. But be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . ." (Rom. 12:2). "We are being transformed . . ." (2 Cor. 3:18).
We do not have to be as we have been. Nobody has to remain enslaved forever to people, attitudes, or things that are destructive. God has provided the means to change through his own divine power. Bad habits can be broken and new, good ones put in their place. It is God's doing, but we have to be open and willing for him to act.
Step One: Admit the need for change. This is what the Bible calls "repentance." It is accepting the truth about oneself that things are not as they should be. It is ceasing to blame others and circumstances for the way things are. It is saying genuinely, "I am this way today because of my own bad choices yesterday." Only then can one say, "Now I choose to be otherwise."
Step Two: Permit external intervention. This just means allowing someone to help you. Stop trying to go it alone, and reach instead to the resources God has put at your disposal. It may be a mate, minister, psychiatrist, friend, AA group, videocassette, book, etc. If you don't know where to turn, talk to someone who has been through a similar ordeal. Whatever else you reach for, you will ultimately need to turn to Christ. This is what the Bible calls "salvation."
Step Three: Put positives where the negatives have been. Major in truthfulness, honesty, kindness, and virtue. Pick new environments and friendships, if necessary. Accept the truth that God's power is at work in you now to achieve holy goals. This is what the Bible calls being a "new creation."
Since Christ has come, nothing has to stay as it has been. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).