The Greeks have a saying, ‘Know thyself.’ Though that may be how the secular world seeks to change, it is not how the Christian views change. 1 Samuel 16:7b, NIV shows us the difference between how the world and God view the process of change. “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” God searches our hearts to test, teach, strengthen, reward, purify, renew, and lead us. Remember, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) God knows our motives and deepest thoughts; God sees what others cannot see. And as God searches our hearts, we in turn continually surrender our hearts to Him. Since God knows all and sees all, we must never forget how much God is for us!
We gain victory by putting our trust in Christ, and when we do, the Holy Spirit helps us reach that place He has prepared for us. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24, NLT. We are best led down the path when we allow God to examine every facet of our being. Many Christians fail to understand the difference between how God convicts our hearts, bringing us to repentance/restoration, and how satan condemns bringing us to despair/hopelessness. Conviction focuses on your behavior while condemnation focuses on your identity. To do this, we first must understand that we do not know ourselves, which is why we need the Holy Spirit’s help in pointing out the areas of our lives that require Godly counsel. Perhaps we are anxious about work, family, or just life in general; when this happens, it becomes beneficial to understand the cause of our anxiety. We may think we know, but only God can pinpoint the area within us that we need to overcome so that we can live victoriously. Though there are times we struggle, usually with those things we did in the past that we have yet to confess and repent of, we are also unaware of the undiscovered potential that lays dormant within us. Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Here is why change is so difficult. To change, we have to allow God to look into our hearts. We have to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying, which requires us to be honest with ourselves. Then comes the challenging task of questioning the things that fill our minds each day by allowing the Holy Spirit to delve deep within us and permit him to ask us the hard questions, one’s that require us to be honest with ourselves. That is how we will find out what motivates us to do the things we do. The Holy Spirit will show us what gives us strength and what fills us with shame, giving us the confidence to overcome our insecurities. Are we honest with others, and even more so, are we honest with ourselves? Colossians 3:10, “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
We need to be honest about our faults, desires, and fantasies. What makes us happy, sad, consumes our time, makes us angry? Are there things we do well, and what are the things we struggle with that cause us to be disappointed with ourselves? These are complicated questions to answer, but they are necessary if we are serious about changing into the image of God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” Psalm 139:23
Becoming the kind of person who knows when to say no and who will not avoid necessary conflict just because it is uncomfortable takes determination and honesty. To separate ourselves from who we are into the person we are destined to become can be difficult, but it will help if we realize that the things we think and say are not necessarily an accurate interpretation of who we really are. What is essential for us to recognize is that, currently, we are not the person that God has destined us to become. Most of what we think, hear and say are the opinions of others that we have picked up in the course of daily living. Proverbs 13:20 ESV “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” I have found that I picked up many of the mannerisms that my parents had, both good and bad, and as many of you already have realized, we typically pick up more of the negative ones than positive ones. I wonder just how much of what we think, say, and do is us, or the habits and mannerisms we picked up from others? Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Most of us have hung on to our bad habits for so long that we have come to believe that is who we are. So I challenge you to ask God if there is some area of your life that you could do better and when you have the victory, ask God if there isn’t something else you could do to improve your walk with God. That is how we can begin to take responsibility for ourselves. Stand straight with your shoulders back and walk with intent in the direction before you. Many of us do not like ourselves. Perhaps that is why the suicide rate has reached such epidemic proportions on the planet. Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” With the victories also come the counterattacks from the enemy, where the very thing we are trying to overcome fights back and begins to tell us the lie that change may be possible for others but it is impossible for you.
How often do we avoid people because we don’t want to respond to the challenge they may require from us through our conversation with them? The truth of the matter is this, at times, we are our own worst enemy and the main source of our own fake news. And if we don’t watch it, those ideas will begin to control us. I tell those I counsel not to look at themselves too closely; change takes time. In other words, don’t compare yourself with what you were like yesterday, or you will be disappointed. Even after a month, the change might not be as much as you may have hoped. That is why it is good to wait three to six months because it typically takes that long before you will see a noticeable change. Then when you notice how much you have changed, you will be encouraged to tackle other areas in your life. Most of us can form a bad habit in just a few days, but it takes months to overcome that same habit and establish a new routine. 2 Chronicles 15:7, “But as for you, be strong an do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
The more we speak the truth, the more we walk in the light, the more our potential is developed, the closer we come to bearing the image of our Creator. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on our own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Much love in Him always.