Why do some people change and some don’t? This is a question I have long considered and recently found a spiritual answer. It turns out it’s simpler than you might think. People who change see the Bible as more than just words. They see God working all of the time and believe that God is guiding them along the way.
It Wasn’t Just Words
It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 (MSG)
Back in 1986 when I studied the Bible at the University of North Carolina, I remember when the Bible went from being just words to something that changed me from the inside. I realized that God had put his hand on me for something special, for a reason. In the Bible, everything finally made sense. I read it and thought, “This is me, this perfectly describes who I am and why I do what I do.” It was convicting. Then something happened in me. I felt inspired, amazed, afraid, and overwhelmed. I saw my sin, saw truth, and saw hope. I started to develop convictions, and I’ve been through that same process again and again ever since.
People who are going to change are the people who recognize that they experienced the Bible as more than just words. The Bible is God talking to us, revealing his plan, calling us, doing something with us. It moves inside us and changes us. It’s a living and breathing relationship that transforms us continually.
The Word of God vs Human Word
13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NIV)
The first question you have to ask if you really want to change is: how do I view the Bible? If you really want to change, you have to see that Bible as the word of God, not human word. Every day when you read the Bible, you have to embrace that God is talking to you. When you read the Bible today, how did you view it? Did you see it as God telling you something you needed to hear?
Why We Make Rules
6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
Mark 7:6-8 (NIV)
Human tendency is to let go of the commands of God and hold onto human traditions. It’s easier to live by human rules than by God’s word, because human rules give us a way to remain distant and keep our hearts far from God. But we don’t change when there is distance between us and God. Rules allow emotional comfort and distance, and take all the heart out of the relationship. It becomes success instead of intimacy, or failure instead of distance.
Uprooting The Rules
13 So then, the word of the Lord to them will become:
Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that;
a little here, a little there— so that as they go they will fall
backward; they will be injured and snared and captured.
Isaiah 28:13 (NIV)
If we are really going to change, we need to identify and uproot our human rules and redefine what it means to have passion for God.
Ask yourself: What are the rules that I live by in life? How can I uproot those rules?
Studying the Bible is a process of uprooting our rules and developing a heart for God. It is not replacing our rules with God’s rules; it is replacing our rules with God’s heart.
For me, it’s the same with leading my family. The goal isn’t to manage my family and make everything function well. The heart is what matters. Is my wife inspired? Does my daughter love God? Are my boys compassionate. The heart comes when we uproot the rules.
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 (NIV)
Instead of living by rules we need to live by faith, hope, and love. These are all spiritual qualities of the heart.
Are you focused on the work, labor, and endurance? Or focused on faith, hope, and love? If we focus on the heart, it will produce the work, labor, and endurance we need.
Inspire – Connect – Thrive
Which of these three do you need to change so you can inspire, connect, and thrive?
Faith: Do I Manage or Inspire?
Faith is about inspiration. Decide to get your daily inspiration from God, and study the Bible to see that God is actually talking to you. Life is more than managing; do something special!
Love: Do I Detach or Connect?
Love is about connection. Decide to connect with people instead of distancing your emotions. Do you have any relationships that are detached? How can you reconnect?
Hope: Do I Survive or Thrive?
Hope is about thriving. Hope means building, not quitting. Don’t quit on making a difference and having impact. Don’t quit on being fruitful. Build, grow, change, reach out, and build relationships!