Tuesday, 06 March 2012 17:10

The Process of Change

Written by  Pamela Boswell
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The change of seasons is a wonderful opportunity for us to evaluate our lives and “start anew”. Every time a new season is approaching, I say to myself, “I like this one best”. I now realize what I really like is the change and a sense of something new. This month marks the official beginning of spring. For some that means beautiful flowers, pastel colors and “the time of the singing of turtledoves”; for others, it means hay fever. For some it means spring break; for others--what to do with the children that week. For many, it will be a time of cleaning and throwing out or getting in the yard and cleaning up.
Through God’s provision of seasons we have opportunity to make fresh starts around our home. But, more importantly, God has provided a way for us to start again in our relationship with Him through His Son. In the Scripture it is described as a new birth, or the new man. With this new life or rebirth, the desire to please God may be immediate, but changes in our habits is not. It is a process.

 


One of my joys in life is gardening. I enjoy being in God’s creation, listening to the various calls of the birds, seeing an unending variety of shapes and colors, and just getting my hands in the dirt to shape my surroundings. One day as I worked in my flower garden, pulling the weeds once again I thought of the comparison with sinful habits in my life and the attempts to remove them. I can pull weeds over and over again from the very same place in my garden, but until I replace them with desirable plants that will take root, the weeds keep coming back.

How does this process of change or replacing old habits take place in your life as a Christian? The answer can be found all through the Bible with specific instructions in the letters to the new churches. Because it is your thoughts that dictate your emotions and guide your actions, that is where you start.

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). You must think on things that are true and pure and just. The kind of things that can only be found in God’s word. This implies spending time reading the Bible daily and increasing your knowledge of Him. Find out what is acceptable to the Lord. If you are making changes in your habits, you must think on things above, those things that are eternal, and replace the lies you have believed. Practice viewing everything that happens in your life from a heavenly perspective and not as if it is all about only you. This is the start, but it is not enough.

Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” To experience change in your life you must put into practice the things that you learn. Part of this is referred to as putting on and putting off in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3. The examples given are the same deceitful lusts you and I struggle with. Whether it is bitterness, anger, gossip, envy, sexual sin or telling crude jokes, the alternatives of meekness, truth-telling, contentment, self-control and edifying speech are presented so that you can begin to practice them. God is concerned about your life at home, work, school or wherever you may be, and He gives direction to us for making changes that will lead us to be more Christ like.

Out of concern that you do not misunderstand me and hear a do-it-yourself doctrine --the encouragement and hope lies not in our ability or will, but in God’s ability and will for us. Success lies in His promises. There is nothing we encounter that has not been encountered before and He provides the way for us (1Corinthians 10:13). We are no longer slaves to sin. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world We have the Holy Spirit to comfort and remind us with God’s promises. It is in our weakness that He is made strong. Use the means that He provides including prayer, your church and Godly counsel when you encounter particular difficulty. And remember the process will never be complete in our lifetime. He does not expect perfection, but faithfulness.

Now, for those of you who may not relate to the gardening example, perhaps this is a visual that will help. Imagine an active two year old in the home of an elderly porcelain collector. In this example the toddler is moving from one delicate object to the next, picking them up for inspection. Continuing to take the delicate objects out of the hand of the small child and telling him “no” is not nearly as effective as giving him something to hold and explore that is more appropriate.

What is it in your life that needs to be pulled out and replaced? Perhaps it is lying and stealing, or maybe it is how you spend your time and money. What are you watching? What are you reading? How do you respond to your coworker at the height of frustration or your family as you arrive home from work? Are you remembering it all belongs to God and has been loaned to you for His glory and your good? As you look around this spring and begin to see new birth, remember to put to death those things in your life that are not worthy of your walk and begin to put on the new man (Colossians 3:10). And for those of you who consider yard work a chore... while you work, think on the parables of growing and gardening our Lord used and maybe it will help you better understand and remember His truths.
 

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