Fresh Manna© by Pastor Tim Burt
Proverbs 11:17 “Your own soul is nourished when you are kind and merciful, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel”
Let me ask you a question? What does most everyone idealistically hope would happen with people that go to prison? Isn’t it true that most people hope those who have been incarcerated would change their ways so that when they come out of prison, they wouldn’t violate the law again and end up back there?
Change is what we want to see. People in prison aren’t the only ones that need change. We all do – everyone single one of us. Every one of us violates ourselves, others, and the law at some point – Everyone with no exception! We violate out of ignorance. We violate out of bad attitude. We violate out of rebellion and disregard for the law or boundaries. We violate out of apathetic attitudes toward right and moral behavior. For the majority of all people, and this is not an exaggeration – most of us have all done something – at least one thing that could have gotten us jail time if not prison time. The difference between us and those that have been incarcerated is that they have gotten caught. Adam and Eve violated God and they got caught. They first tried to hide. Genesis 3:8 “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
They weren’t the only ones doing things wrong and hiding. God’s people do the same and always have. 2 Kings 17:9 “And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God…”
None of us get things right all the time. I think most people make mistakes, sin, and or miss God’s mark almost daily. If that’s the case, then what should we do? We should repent and work toward making serious changes.
Change doesn’t come easily in a person’s life. We all experience inspiration to change at times. We all have good intentions to make changes. Carrying them out is another thing. Matthew 5:25 warns us of the importance of making changes in our life. If we don’t, there will always be those that can’t wait to be our judge and lock us up. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison”
What about when people do work hard to make sincere changes? Do we hold them in prison and back in the place where they were before they did change? I talk to many husbands and wives that have had rocky pasts. Maybe he has violated her in a number of ways for years or maybe she has violated him. It’s normal for people in that position to have little faith or trust for real change in their spouses. Yet, I have seen people “come to themselves.” What do I mean by that? In the story of the prodigal son that left his home rebelliously and squandered his inheritance, we see that he “came to himself.” He woke up from his sin and realized how stupid and foolish he had been and the hurt he had caused. Luke 15:14-19 “About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. The boy became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to himself (came to his senses), he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired men have food enough to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man.”
I have talked to many people that have “come to themselves” through the crisis their marriage breakup has caused. Many times one spouse or the other, or both will “come to themselves.” At those times, they focus on making real changes. This is a time where I see those who were once casual about their walk with God become serious about Him. They repentant and make huge changes in their life.
In those times, the tendency is for people to say and think, “He is only changing because he’s in this crisis.” Well that may be the spark that started this change but it doesn’t mean that their changes aren’t sincere or won’t last. The truth is, those changes need to be watched and observed over time. Trust that is broken and lost takes time to get back. At the same time, if you don’t celebrate, honor, and embrace the sincere changes that someone makes for the better, you are judging them and keeping them imprisoned. You are discouraging their change rather than promoting it. How many people do you know that really change behind prison walls? Statistics say far too few. Then don’t keep someone you know that is working toward making real life changes bound to the way they used to be thinking and saying, “He’ll never change. She’ll never change.” How many times you have repented to God for the same thing only to fail again. Aren’t you glad He doesn’t look at you and say, “You’ll never change!” Aren’t you glad God is merciful to you over and over and over again?
When you see that someone is working hard to make changes notice it. Acknowledge it! Celebrate it! Honor it! You’ll help them change. This is better than playing “the judge that hands them over to the officer, and so they may be thrown into prison.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2007 Tim Burt, All rights reserved.