I’ve never liked the saying people write in greeting cards, “Stay the way you are!” How shortsighted is that! Stay the way you are? Don’t you dare! Sure, accept your basic personality traits, but keep moving closer to Jesus, becoming like Him. It’s a gift from God that we’ve been made with the capacity to keep growing and changing throughout life. Repentance is part of that process – admitting we’re sorry for something and asking God for forgiveness.
The only way for something new to grow is by mucking out our lives, shoveling everything into a big pile and carrying it to the foot of Jesus’ cross. It’s all these turning points, these moments of repentance, the very act of asking for forgiveness, that create the good soil in which change can take place. This is especially true in relationships. Following Jesus is always about making conscious choices to change direction and accepting correction or adjustments from God.
After a recent operation, my 89-year-old grandmother told me that she was having to learn a new degree of patience. Even after nine decades of life, there is still potential for development. We’re never finished. God wants to walk with us, leading us more and more into Christ-likeness. Don’t stay the way you are, and never give up hope that you can change. God is always about transformation. We’ll have to wait to see whether the change will come in this life or the next.
Thank God, we’re not condemned to remain at the mercy of the negative character traits of our human nature forever. We’ve been given the option to choose whether we want to give our own spirit free rein or God’s Spirit.
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God (Romans 8:6-10, NLT).
God’s Spirit gives us the ability to react differently. He can change everything. God even asked Jeremiah, “Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). At the end of the day, the truth is that nothing is impossible for God. No situation is too gridlocked to resolve. Even if we have to learn patience (and impatience is one of Old Boppi’s favorite personality traits). We’re not strong enough to free ourselves of the Old Man’s ways; we need God’s powerful intervention. This is the hope we have. I hold on to it for dear life. I’ll never let go.
[Excerpted from Unfinished, chapter 8, by Andreas “Boppi” Boppart, translated by Tracy Konig.]