The need to change is, perhaps, one of the heavier burdens a Christian bears. I have counseled so many Christians who have struggled with the need to change, even to the point where there’s a temptation to regret having had become a Christian in the first place. The need for change is so inconvenient, isn’t it?
Many Christians are overwhelmed by this struggle.
Where do you even begin? Perhaps your pride issue in the workplace? Your propensity to curse while driving? How about your addiction to lewd TV programs? Your hatred for certain people? Your hatred for yourself?
We can go deeper.
Your fear of being alone? Your incessant need to control? Your secret addictions? Your dark past?
Shall we go on?
Oftentimes, Christians who cannot change like to justify it with falsities. They like to find possible loopholes in the Bible that allow them to hold onto their vices. Sometimes, they shift the blame and start pointing fingers at their community of accountability, perhaps even towards spiritual authority. Or, they ignore the problem altogether and not tell a soul.
On the other hand, if you happen to be a Christian with a bit more maturity and motivation, you may have already linked yourself to an accountability system. You may be reading self-help books and listening to podcasts. You may be creating resolutions and multiple-step plans. You submit to counseling programs and inner healing ministries. You try to increase your self-awareness. You talk about it, think about it. You strive to change, because it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes, this can get tiring too.
Change is not a fruit of striving. It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
It says in Galatians 5:22-26…
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
Now, take the following advice with some context in mind. It’s not your job to produce goodness from within you. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job.
Jesus really meant it when He said that He would send us a Helper, one who would teach us and guide us (John 14:25-27). This is not to say that we are not responsible for willing ourselves towards change. We are definitely responsible for pursuing change. However, the power to create the change itself comes from our dear Holy Spirit. Perhaps, we should do a little less seeking motivation and do a little more seeking His Presence. After all, Apostle Paul did say to “keep in step with the Spirit.” It is impossible to change by our own strength. You can introspect and strategize all you want, but you will probably drown in discouragement over your own depravity. This generation tells you to look inside yourself and find goodness from within you. Instead, I say look into the Spirit who resides within you. In Him, you will find the peace… the patience… the kindness…and the fuel for the change that you need. Basically, you yourself cannot create change. It’s imperative to pursue intimacy with the One who can. He is the Gentle Surgeon… the Kind Teacher… the Wise Father… and the Generous Provider. You can lay the burden of yourself down at His feet. As you walk on the path towards sanctification, let Him lead the way.
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” —Galatians 5:25