Saturday, November 5, 2011

Change From the Inside - Out

by Tim Howard

When I was born on February 13, 1951 I weighed approximately 8 lbs. 2 oz. My hands were only an inch or so long, my hair didn’t exist and my skin was all shriveled up like a little old man.  Even though my parents used the term ‘cute’ to describe me, I’m not sure that was absolutely true.

If you were to compare some of my old baby pictures with some current photographs, you would immediately notice some major changes. I’ve grown to 5’8” tall, my hands are much larger, I’ve managed to put on 160 lbs, and I don’t want to talk about the hair thing because it seems like I’m regressing back to my infancy in that area…

I’m very thankful for is the possibility of change! I know God loves us too much to let us remain the same but His interest in changing us is not only connected to the external realm.

Back in the day Jesus confronted the Religious leaders about their emphasis on external change without any focus on what was happening internally. He states it very bluntly and forcibly in Matt chapter 23.

 "You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something… You're like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it's all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you're saints, but beneath the skin you're total frauds.” (The Message)

God desires a heart change and not mere behavioral modification. Even though one can change a specific behavior for a period of time, when the heart is not connected to the change, it is only temporary. The ultimate result is hypocrisy.

People in general and religious people specifically can look good externally but be very corrupt on the inside. Isaiah the Prophet puts it this way: “ They draw near to me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” In other words: Some proclaim they are Christians but don’t practice what they proclaim. They seem to be religious but don’t have a personal, ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ. They conform externally but aren’t changed internally.

God wants to change us from the inside out. Yes, He is concerned with your behavior, Yes, He is concerned with your beliefs but He is ultimately concerned with your heart and attitudes because all your actions flow from your heart. Maybe that’s why Solomon said: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Changing from the inside out will require God. You can’t do it yourself! You need a heart transplant. The old heart is deceitful, disingenuous and untrustworthy. That’s where God comes in. Ezekiel 36:26 says God will give us a new heart if we ask. Christianity is not about conforming to certain spiritual laws but being transformed into God’s likeness by the power of Jesus Christ. Just like a skilled doctor who is able to do heart transplants for those in physical need, Jesus can give you a new heart.

Some people try to change by searching for some key hidden in their past. Some seek to change their lives by working harder, praying longer or attending church more often. Various approaches to change may be helpful but only Jesus can change you from the inside - out. 

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