A new start, a reformation, behaving in more responsible ways… is this ever entirely possible? As humans, on our own, do we really have the wherewithal to accomplish such a thing? Some would argue with me until they are blue in the face, that “yes” of course humans can change. But really, how many have you known who have done so, as I said, on their own, without any external help? I am human and have tried most of my life to overcome some nagging negative traits or characteristics that seem hard-wired into my own DNA. Just about when I think I’ve got things under control, I either slip up, slide back, or just quit trying for awhile. Then I realize, I can’t do this on my own. I need help.
A tried and true, non-invasive way to control one’s vulgar speech habits, is to wear a rubber band on the wrist. Every time you speak without thinking, falling into the old habit of using selected words not suitable for little ears (or old ears for that matter), you pull back the band on your wrist and feel pain associated with that language. While over time your language may change for horrible to not-so-bad most of the time, the outside action of snapping a rubber band against your wrist was the external source causing an internal change. It’s basic re-programming, not necessarily change at the core of who you are. That’s the real problem isn’t it? How to really “turn over a new leaf.”
The prophet Jeremiah asks Jeremiah 13:23
Can the Ethiopian change his skin
Or the leopard his spots?
Then you also can do good
Who are accustomed to doing evil.
See? God knows us better than we know ourselves. And He knows we are not capable of doing the very thing we want to do… turn over a new leaf.
So, how to accomplish such an enormous task? What’s really required if we want to commit to the process of starting over, and changing our behavior, to less volatile and damaging activities? How do we curb these vitriolic attitudes spoken freely every day in a world divided by condescension and hatred?
David of the Old Testament was only too aware of his sinfulness, and rebellion against God’s ways. Basically, he said (over and over and over), “I need help!”
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
David also wrote…
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
Even David in the Old Testament, declared that if we are ever to turn over a new leaf, it will come from the outside supernatural forces we invite into our lives, that remake us from the inside out. We cannot do it alone. We need help.
Jesus was talking to Nicodemus late one night because ole Nick knew he needed help, and sought out the only One who could help him. Nick says to Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” To which Jesus replies, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nick’s response: “Huh?”
For the whole narrative read John 3:1-21. But for the point I’m making here, Nick new only too well that he couldn’t change on his own. He went to Jesus to find the answers, and Jesus gave him the instruction needed to make a real change, to turn over that new leaf. You must be born again.
Those who believe in Jesus to transform them into a human who glorifies God, will be completely satisfied with their metamorphosis. This faith/trust doesn’t just change your speech, or your behavior, but your desires and attitudes as well. Every person who every locked eyeballs with Jesus (in the New Testament) went away changed. Either for better… or worse.
If they understood and believed who Jesus claimed to be, trusting in His salvation by stepping over the line of faith, their whole lives took on new meaning and purpose. Those who listened to his teachings, saw him act in miraculous ways, and still weren’t convinced they needed “His brand” of teaching or salvation… they walked away unchanged… or saved.
We all make the choice to believe or not, to be changed or not. But we cannot change ourselves into what God wants us to be. That requires the outside spiritual grace offered only in Jesus.
Want to turn over a new leaf? Run to the One who made the leaves! He will transform you’re life.
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