If we are going to experience true change we need to begin with our motive for change. For most of us that involves wanting to look or feel better. If we were to be brutally honest - most of our new year's resolutions center around us. I'd like to be slimmer and be in better shape . . . why? Because I'd like to look good - and the compliments from others are not too bad either. Very few of our resolutions have at their core the glory of God. Most of mine - if I were to be brutally honest - are for the glory of pastor John. Real change will have at its core God's purposes - God's will - and God's glory.
This examination of our motives brings us to the second important point about real change. By what power are we expecting to accomplish these changes? If our motives reveal that we want change for our glory, comfort, or convenience - guess whose power is going to be foremost in achieving it? If you guessed your own - you are right! This is where most change short-circuits. Our ability alone is not able to make changes - if it was - we would have been able during the year. Just because it is a new year - does not change the lack of power with which we struggle. What we need to a power surge - or a power change. That is where God comes into the picture. He is the One with the power to change our hearts and live. When we put His will at the center of our desires - as well as His glory at the center of our purpose - real power will be released in our lives.
The last aspect of change is honestly the MOST IMPORTANT. Most changes we seek to make on our own involve the principle of "Law." We begin to make a promise - or a list of things or actions we are going to do to bring about change. The list seems helpful to us until we mess-up for the first time. Then the list seems to condemn us for not conforming to it. We failed - the change did not come - after a few failures add up we become discouraged and give up. That is what the principle of Law does in our lives. Change that is entered into by grace is much different. Grace urges change just like Law does. The difference comes when we have a failure or two. Law does nothing to encourage us - in fact it looms ever higher after each failure. Grace calls us to change - but meets us with - well, with grace when we fail. Think about how often God forgives us - dusts us off from our failures - and lets us know that God chose to love us. We are reminded that God's love is based upon grace and what Christ did - not on our performance. This frees us to get back up and continue seeking to love and honor and obey God - even though we don't always do it perfectly. Even when we become discouraged, grace urges us to get back up and trust God anew to change and transform us.
Each year we have an opportunity given to us - by nothing more than a change of calendar. The problem we've faced is thinking that the calendar alone can help us to make the major changes we desire - only to find that these changes rarely if ever come. My hope is that by looking at this in a more biblical way - there has been opened to you a fresh opportunity with God to see change in your heart and life. The best thing about this is that with God - this change is not limited to once a year in January. It can happen any time you choose to turn to the Lord and access the grace He offers to you.