Isn’t it fun when other people point out our negative behavior patterns? I love how that stuff is always so easy to hear. Alright maybe not fun and easy to hear but those situations can be useful if we can get past the temptation to punch them in the face.
I recently had someone make me aware of a negative behavior pattern. I say “make me aware” but the truth is that I was already aware of the issue. It was something embedded in me many years ago, and something I always knew I wanted to change. But the interesting thing was that I never really pursued change for this particular issue. I saw the way I was and how I wanted to be different but never took any specific steps to bring about change in that area of my life.
And then I came across this passage from 1 Peter 3:10-11
The one who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not], Must keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from speaking guile (treachery, deceit). He must turn away from wickedness and do what is right. He must search for peace [with God, with self, with others] and pursue it eagerly [actively—not merely desiring it].
It’s the last part of this passage that really slapped me around. Many of us have had times in our lives in which we knew something about us needed to change. For many of you like me, the problem wasn’t that we didn’t know changes we wanted to make but rather we didn’t really take any consistent steps to bring those changes about. It’s not enough just to desire the abundant life Jesus came to bring. Click To Tweet It’s not enough to just tell God, “Okay, I know I want freedom and change in this area and I’m ready for you to do it in me.” We actually have to go after it. We have a critical role to play.
My dad told me a joke the other day. A farmer and pastor were walking together across the farmer’s land. The pastor sucked in a satisfied breath and marveled at the beautiful crop God had raised up. He pointed out the tall corn and how every bit of the earth seem to be producing.
The farmer gazed across the full field and smirked. “Yeah, it’s great now but you should have seen it when God had it all to himself.”
That punchline might hit some of you in a negative way but if it does, you might be missing the point. It’s not a statement about God’s power, it’s a statement about how beauty is produced when we work with him. It’s about the freedom and life that comes into reality when we recognize we have a responsibility to pursue the abundant life Jesus came to bring.
I do need to make one thing clear at this point. I do not believe our freedom is simply a “mind over matter” issue. I would not have overcome the issue that was pointed out to me by simply using my will to act differently. If it were that easy, I would have change my behavior long ago. On our own we are powerless against the lies, discouragement, apathy, hopelessness, and despair that keep us from taking the steps needed to experience the breakthrough we want.
But we do need to use our will to take the steps that produce the changes we want. Click To Tweet That might mean reading a book, listening to a teaching, counseling, going to a conference, asking for help from those we trust, going to bed earlier, eating better, and so on.
Essentially the first question that we should ask when we recognize something about ourselves we want to change is, “Okay Lord. What do I need to do in order to change?” And then be willing to do whatever he tells you.
For me the answer was, “Come into my presence and I’ll show you the root lie you’ve believed that is responsible for your behavior.” I did and he did. And then he showed me what to do in order to bring that lie down. Now I’m free!
What are the things you can do to eagerly pursue (as Peter says) the kingdom life you truly desire?
It’s not enough to just know what needs to change. We’ve got to pursue it.
Jesse and Kara Birkey
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