Let me ask you a question? What does most everyone idealistically hope would happen with people who 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 possibly even 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 landed us in jail. 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. But first they 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…” Just so you know, the secret evils they did, were not secret to God. He knew exactly what they were doing. They just lied to themselves & others like people hide and do today.
Secret wrong thoughts and behaviors erode any confidence we may have in our relationship with God. And so we must change them! 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? Should we hide them from God? You know that doesn’t work. No, we should pause and sincerely repent and work toward making serious changes when we see repetition of the same sins.
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. Stephen Covey wrote, We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.
People can and do change! 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 who have “come to themselves” through their crisis. At those times, they focus on making real changes. This is a time where I see those who were once casual toward sin and their walk with God become serious about Him. They were repentant and made huge changes in their life. When people do work hard to make sincere changes, don’t hold them in a type of prison by looking at them as someone who will never change. Give them latitude and encourage them when they say they’ve made changes. In doing so, you actually help yourself process change. Proverbs 11:17 (NLT) says, “Your own soul is nourished when you are kind and merciful, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.”
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, and honor it! It will help them but it will also bless you! Above all, realize how hard change is to make. Be patient when they blow it and encourage them on again! In doing so, you are helping them change for the good!
Proverbs 24:16 (NIV) “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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