Have you been or are you still in a situation that you never thought you would allow yourself to be in? Life has a tendency to sneak up on us and before you know it, we are in a circumstance that we’d never dream we could be in. How did this happen? Did we not listen? Did we not pay attention to the signs or warnings from others? Regardless of how we got there, in order to get out of the deep end, we have to focus on the “why” and not the “how”. I have a friend who often tells me, “If you don’t like what you see, you have to change what you do.” However, if you just make the “how” changes, more than likely history will repeat itself.
From an early age we are taught right from wrong actions. As a child we test these theories to see if the consequences are greater or less than the pleasure we receive from taking action or inaction. This is simply the behavior theory. In a nutshell, this theory is this: does the pleasure outweigh the pain or vice versa. Depending on your pallet for pain, this varies from person to person. Some of it has to do with environment, some with socioeconomics, family, school, culture, etc. No matter who you are, this is a learned behavior and it is engrained in us from trial and error.
As we grow older, we know right from wrong so why do we continue to put ourselves in situations that we know there will be consequences that we don’t desire? It’s simple, really. We are fallible.
Because of the fall of man, we sin. It is in our very nature to sin. I don’t believe we want equality, I believe we want MORE! When we face consequences or punishment for our behavior, we try to reform our behavior. A good example of this is the penal (correctional) system. When we make mistakes large enough to be deemed against the law, we are put into a system that is designed to reform us of the behavior that got us there to begin with. There are many ways in the correctional system that helps drive this reformation: Jail, prison, parole, probation, counseling, rehabs, etc. The only problem with this is that it focuses on the “HOW” and not on the "WHY". The truth is behavior modification is more about disciplining ourselves so we don’t end up in the situation again. Changing our behavior is a great way to figure out how not to do something again.
If we’re honest about the situation to begin with, we shouldn’t focus on HOW not to do something, we should focus on WHY we should or shouldn’t do something. This only happens one way: Christ! When we accept God’s grace, we don’t get behavior modification, we get heart transformation. We learn that we didn’t get into our situation because of the how, but because of the heart! Jesus said that all we say and do comes from the heart (Matthew 15). This is what trips us up and why we do the things we do. When we learn this, we can correct years of behavior modification and turn it into heart transformation.
The heart is where it begins and ends for us. When your heart is right, your behavior will follow it. There is no one foot in and one foot out with this. You have to be ALL-IN with Christ, or you will be subject to past behavior.
You’re probably thinking right now, "I gave my heart to Jesus a long time ago, and I’m still having problems!” That may be true, but how did you protect your heart from the world? This is important. Just because you love God, doesn’t mean you’re not going to slip up - (again, we are fallible). There are plenty of people who love God and pray continuously, but continue to fail. Why? I believe it's because their transformation wasn’t completed by focusing on the things Christ calls us to do. Love him, and love others. Pick up our cross daily, and die to self. That is crucial because the bible tells us this:
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23)
In order to guard our hearts, we have to change how we think and the life we live.
(Romans 12:2) states: Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
If you are still living in the same thinking that got you here, you still have the situation you are in, but now you have it with conviction to boot! Get to your church and ask HOW you can grow in Christ. Otherwise, you are growing in yourself and that's what got you to this point to begin with. Get into a personal relationship with Jesus, not just a knowledge-based relationship with Him. Get involved with helping others. Build friendships with others who have been walking in the light for a while, and learn from them. It may not cure your situation, but it will save you from history repeating itself. It sounds simple, and it is. No one said it was going to be easy though. However, heart transformation will grow you into a new future, where-as behavior modification will allow your future to meet your past once again.
Posted on Mon, May 4, 2015
by John Phipps