As a pastor and a counselor I work with a number of people who feel the need for change, but often wonder if it is possible to change. I have heard the following statement from more people than I have counted: “I have worked to change, prayed for change, and I have not changed. I guess this is just who I am.”
We do long for change. It is painful that change seems so difficult. Sometimes we lose hope.
However, Scripture is clear that change is a part of our lives. “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ez 36:27). “…so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” (Romans 6:19). “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:15). God is at work to bring us to maturity and “perfection.” We will not be perfect until He finally glorifies us, but we do see that He is always growing us. We are called to partner with him in this.
It is important to keep in focus that the goal of this growth is not our personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. The goal of our growth is God’s glory and pleasure. John 14:15 simply tells us that as Jesus was going from the Last Supper with his disciples to the garden of Gethsemane where he was wrestling in prayer prior to his arrest, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” 1 Peter 1:7 tells us that the outcome of enduring trials in this life is that our tested faith “may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
There is a much greater goal for our growth than personal pleasure. We are living for God. I believe if we minimize our perspective on growth and change, limiting it to our own pleasure, we will likely conclude that the costs of change are greater than the benefits of change. In short, we will give up long before we experience change.
As I consider Jesus, and his love and sacrifice for me, and the promise of blessings that he is giving me in this life and in the next, I do grow in my love for him and I am moved by that love to respond with love. Simply put, he is worth any efforts I make to change. My commitment to, and energy for, change are multiplied. The result is that I see God change me and I grow into the Christlikeness to which I am called.