This time of year, we’re all thinking about change. We’re going to change our diet, go to the gym, and finally lose that unwanted weight. We’re going to change our spending, budget more tightly, and finally save up that extra cash. We’re going to change our schedule, make more time for the Lord, and finally make 2015 the year we read our Bible every day.
Is it just a change of behaviour or do we ever examine our hearts to determine if we need a heart change? Like David, a change of behaviour is often not what we need but a change of heart:
Create a clean heart for me, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. [Ps. 51:10]
As we prepare to think about change for the coming year, Paul Tripp offers three questions we need to start with:
- Are you satisfied with who you are? The problem with many Christians is not that we’re dissatisfied; no, I think we’re all too easily satisfied! We’ve accepted our flaws and weaknesses, either because we’ve given up or grown indifferent. Hear this: you should be content with God’s plan for your life and rest in his forgiving grace, but as a sinner, you should never be satisfied with who you are.
- Are you quick to hire a defense attorney [defend your sin]? When someone, in faithful love, points out a wrong in us, our first response is rarely one of humble confession. Instead, we gather evidence of our righteousness and go to court to defend our words and actions, even when we know the evaluation is accurate! It makes no sense for a follower of Christ to do that. If the penalty for our sin has been paid in full, we are set free to admit to our weakness, sin, and failure.
- Are you overzealous to help others change? It’s true that God has designed the body of Christ to organically minister to one another, and you’re called to speak the truth in love to your fellow brothers and sisters. But are you quick to point out sin in the life of another while ignoring it in your own? When thinking about change, consider your own heart before the heart of someone else you know.
Did you make any resolutions for the New Year? Or, what do you want to change about your life in general? Are these resolutions or desires for change driven by the kingdom of God or the kingdom of self? In what ways have you become too easily satisfied with who you are as a sinner? Why is it easier to “help others change” than it is to confess to your own sin?