People Don’t Change…
Or do they?
I think for most of us, regardless of what we say, we subconsciously wrestle with this thought. People don’t change. In all honesty it’s really easy to arrive at that conclusion.
Think about it. How often has someone hurt you? Not just once, but over and over again. Maybe even by the exact same action as the time before. It’s easy to conclude that they will always be the way they are, they will never change.
Convincing ourselves of this makes breaking relationship a little easier. It’s easier to break off a relationship of any kind when you can “justify” that the person will always be “that way”.
I’ve been the “victim” and the accuser. I know of a person right now making the same selfish choices they were making 10 years ago, only now it has impacted other lives significantly. I’ve had to combat, even over the last 24 hours, this idea that they will never change. I remember in the midst of my divorce being told I would never change, that the destructive relational habits I had developed would be my practice forever.
People don’t change.
When you stop for a moment and think about it, this mindset really is destructive in itself. The idea that people will always be the way they are, nothing good will ever come of them, it’s depressing. It tears down and fails to identify and understand an eternally important truth.
To rest in the framework that people can’t change neglects the truth of the gospel, of Jesus’ mission and sacrifice; it disregards the work of the Holy Spirit. When we think, or dare say that someone is incapable of change we completely disregard the work that can be done by and through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.
It’s that serious.
And yet, we find it so easy to convince ourselves of it.
The truth is people can change, but it’s a choice. The option is there, the opportunity is always present; the question isn’t if they can change, but will they?
Being told I would never change became one of the biggest motivators for me to evaluate my priorities, my actions, the choices I was making. While I don’t agree with telling people they will never change, being confronted with that harsh criticism gave me the motivation I needed at that moment to take action.
See, I knew in my heart that what I was told wasn’t true. I knew change was possible. Growth was attainable. And while I understood I couldn’t do it on my own, I knew it began with a choice I had to make.
Up to that point my focus had really been on me. When I was really honest with myself, I did what I did for me. If it happened to benefit others, great. My mindset, the priorities in my life had to be rearranged or change would not happen.
I love how Paul tackles this in his letter to the church in Rome. In chapter 12 he begins by stressing to his readers the significance and importance of living for Jesus. In the first verse he uses the Greek word παρακαλέω (parakalĕō), literally meaning to implore, beseech, or appeal. Paul is pleading with his fellow believers to live holy lives in pursuit of Jesus.
But Paul also understood it begins with change. That’s why he follows in verse two with this….
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2
Paul believed change was possible, because Jesus made it possible. But it is a process we must engage in actively. Growth is painful, change takes time, and we have to be willing to surrender our selfish desires to begin the process.
Where are you? Are you stuck in destructive patterns? Do you continue to make destructive choices and feel like you can’t change? Are you convinced people will always be the way they are? Jesus has a different story. And the really cool thing is, He wants you and me to be a part of it. He wants us to change, to be transformed by His power.
What’s holding you back?