Five years ago, I weighed 30 pounds more than I do today. It is a significant change which is such a source of pleasure to me that I make a daily decision to refuse to allow myself to drift back up. Mostly this means I look at certain snacks that are like the siren of Lorelei, murmuring at me to indulge and I walk away instead. So far the thirty pounds remain shed. I really don’t know how I did it.
I’ve seen a fair amount of change in my life. Politics, church styles, clothing, music and technology have all changed many times. Politics in particular reminds me of waves on a Hawaiian beach. Those in power build a sand castle only to have it destroyed when the next wave of leaders take charge. There is no change in politics, just grumbling while rebuilding the sand castle. Everything else changes. The internet blog has arrived and the Twinkie© has died. (Let us pray. “Gracious Lord show mercy to the Twinkie for it’s many corruptions and grant it peace as it rests eternally in the land fill, refusing to decay. Amen.”) My expensive and cumbersome stereo has vanished and been replaced by a comparatively tiny device that I can slip into my pocket. I should have saved my turntable though. It’s back in style.
The Top Change, the king of the hill that defies any human to dare take it on, is the personal change. Many a life has been destroyed because a human being can’t and won’t change. Why is that? Why would we destroy ourselves through acidic behavior, rejecting opportunities to deal with it or at best pawing at it feebly? It’s a mystery, isn’t it?
Then Jesus speaks to us and says in John 14 15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (NASB) Okay. That’s next on my list.
Actually, Jesus is suggesting the two major barriers to human change. One is motivation and the other is power. We don’t want to change and we don’t have the power or strength. The Great Google will tell you if you query it about change that unless we want to change for the right reason, we will fail. Further, some addictions are so powerful that we cannot defeat them without outside help.
The supreme motivation is love and no one will stand up to that which entangles them unless motivated by love. If we are faced with the agonizing truth that our choices are constantly hurting the people we love, then perhaps we will stiffen and begin the fight against the behavior that indwells us. It is often argued, “what does it matter that I do evil so long as it hurts no one else?” This is selfishness on display because it denies the truth that we are on earth to benefit and serve others rather than ourselves.
The supreme power is the power of God as reflected in the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. It is His power that enables us to walk out on the streets of Tombstone and face down Sin the undefeated gunslinger. We access that power by placing our faith in Christ who gives us the Holy Spirit. Then we access that power through one simple step. Obedience. A little obey leads to a bigger obey, unleashing the power to perform huge obeys.
It’s taken me a lifetime to understand this. I thought we obeyed because we were supposed to. Like most people, I despised doing the things I am supposed to do. I had no motivation. If I obeyed, I did so to keep from getting into trouble.
Obey God and the power stirs within us to obey again. Failure is merely a reason to get up, dust ourselves off and obey again. That power is not our own, it comes from God. The point is that obedience is not another onerous law and command from on High. It’s a force and it is designed to be released to free us and not to bind us. I am free from 30 pounds of excess weight and I owe it to the grace of God who gave me the power to obey, one little obey at a time. I am motivated by my love for my family and others who seem to be pleased that I am still alive to serve them. (And….I look pretty good in the mirror.)
Romans 8 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, (NASB)