The seasoned worker experienced their annual performance review. They are bewildered, dumbfounded with the results. They saw themselves as the model employee, enthusiastic, and dedicated. The “Big Boss” shocks the worker, “We have been watching you and you are not a team player, and your fellow employees have complained your ‘compassion’ is just an excuse to gossip. It seems you have picked up some really bad habits over the last few years, but we are not ready to give up on you.” He suggests the worker take a few days away from everyone and consider their future. Could that be me or you?
Whether thrust upon you, or voluntary, change is not a bad thing; change always brings about the new! Is it time for you to change course? Have you been riding on the road to complacency, or worse, set in your ways with an attitude of justified self-righteousness? If you were to evaluate yourself now, compared to a year ago, has anything really changed?
Consider Saul of Tarsus. Saul stood out among his peers, dedicated, educated on the law, with a zeal for protecting the Pharisee ways. Saul was becoming an efficient exterminator of Christians, and he sincerely believed he was doing the right thing. It was on the road to Damascus where he came face to face with his future. He was blinded, and confronted with his persecution of Christians by the Lord himself. Jesus then suggested he take a few days away at an inn to consider his future.
I guess now would be a good time to mention the disclaimer; whether you are three or ninety three, you cannot change on your own! Oh, you may make adjustments, or overcome a few limitations, but the key change is through Jesus Christ, and not by your own strength. Saul, who was changed and became Paul, wrote in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Will- power is good but His Holy Power is everything!
If you could change one thing in your life, within reason, what would it be? Some may say “lose weight.” Others might say, “Change careers.” Still others may say “mend a broken relationship or give up a bad habit.” Sometimes bad habits break relationships with others. Everyone has something they would like to improve or change about themselves, even Billy Graham said he would have prayed more.
If we set the baseline at Saul, who had the habit of exterminating people, being overly religious, judgmental, with a hatred for Christians, how can your bad habits be too tough for Jesus? Perhaps it is one of these; overeating, drinking to excess, smoking, overspending, gossiping, evil thoughts, pornography, foul language, workaholic, criticism of others, selfishness, or even poor posture. These and many more bad habits can be broken, if we allow God to take ownership of our struggles.
Paul speaks about replacing these old habits by exchanging them for new ones in Ephesians 4:22-25, “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
A great way to put off the old self this year is to draw closer to God through daily Bible reading, study, scripture memorization, and prayer. When God’s Word adheres to our minds and thoughts, the cold air of winter is replaced by the warmth of spring and new growth takes place. I love God’s promise of faithfulness in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Have you asked God what is on his heart regarding your life, job, family and habits? Did you listen? Have you asked God to help you break free from the shackles of bad habits so you may live in victory?
Matthew 7:7-8 offers another promise to those who follow, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
So, if you want to lose weight, ask God to help you choose healthy foods which fuel your body. Then ask God to help you find an accountability partner you can trust to keep you on track. Or, speak with a professional for guidance. If you need help with an addiction, ask God to help and listen for his instruction. He may change everything and direct you to a facility for help or to a Celebrate Recovery meeting to get you started on the road to healing.
Change is not a little thing, but if you take a step towards God he will reach out to you. Whatever a person truly seeks they eventually find. It really boils down to this; Jesus is the answer, and it is up to each of us to decide if we want to ask the question.