News and Views
RESOLUTIONS AND CHANGE
Friday, January 04, 2013
The tradition of making New Year's Resolutions marks one of the few times that support looking at ourselves to consider what changes we would like to make in ourselves rather than in others. Our common experience of not keeping New Year's Resolutions suggests that too often we aim to make changes using our own strength and ability in areas that really are not vitally important to us. Too often we concentrate on the externals which don't really matter.
However, meaningful change occurs from the inside-out and is the kind of change which God directs, supports and enables. In a nutshell, God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, created humans in His own image; humans rebelled breaking the image; Jesus came to repair the image, personally and individually, to restore each and every believer to who they were created to be. Usually, this is a lengthy process taking all of this life and an unknown portion of the next as the Holy Spirit dwelling within us guides us into understanding, willingness, and actual change. We can't change much without Him; He won't change us without our willing cooperation.
The Bible has a lot to say about this change, this transformation. In Romans 12:2, Paul writes, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (NIV) 1 John 3:2 tells us, "Now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known, but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him...." (NIV) Paul tells us that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Gal. 5:22-23 NIV) He also further defines love, writing, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Cor. 13:4-8a NIV) The transformed mind will also follow Paul's advise about the contents of its thoughts, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." (Phil. 4:8 NIV) In other words, if we give ourselves to God through belief in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will dwell within us to strengthen, enable and teach us, and these are the kinds of changes He will produce in us as we willingly allow Him to and cooperate with Him. Deep down, isn't this what we want to be like? This is the kind of positive change in thought, attitude and action which the Holy Spirit will gradually bring about in us as we seek to know God, align our wills with His will, and grow toward being the image of Him which He created us to be.
It is of value to note that we are to focus on change within ourselves, but the results of the change will bring us to greater concern, care and kindness towards others. We develop self-control, not control of others. As we ourselves change, we become less self-centered and become more concerned about the welfare of others. As we become more self-controlled, we are more prepared to honour the freedom of others rather than control them.
This New Year will be a better year for each of us as we resolve to seek to truly know God and the changes He wants to make in us.
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