Here is an interesting fact: back in 2008, the business analyst valued the self-help industry at around 11 billion dollars. WOW! The assessment would include books, motivational speeches, and the list goes on. Some suggest that this idea was initiated in part by Samuel Smiles’ book entitled, Self-help. The reality is, long before men started printing such books, man yearned for personal change, and others chronicled that yearning in the scriptures. David pleaded with God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10) as he reflected on his tragic past. Many of us can relate to these words by the apostle Paul, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15). The fact is, for many, if not most of us, part of the reason we sought after God is because we reasoned that there must be more to life than merely existing the way I am. When looking in the mirror, I would be one of them who would have a keen awareness that the person I see is not the person I want to that I need to be.
But you have not so learned Christ if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus…
If you are in Christ, I have news for you, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2nd Corinthians 5:17). Remember, our hope rests upon Christ and His work. That said, we have a task before us that the hope in Christ beckons us to embrace. It is called transformation. Remember, God accepts us where we are but desires us to grow in His likeness (Ephesians 5:1). If He has called us to such a quest, then we can achieve it. So, what is involved in such a transformation? With this newfound knowledge of Christ, we need to embrace the idea of “putting off…the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Ephesians 4:22). For that to happen, there needs to be honesty. If any of you are like me, sometimes seeing what needs to be “put off” that “old man,” so to speak, is all too easy. Maybe we relate to Paul when he said of himself, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). As we gaze into the mirror of personal reality, despair can quickly take over. But that is not the intent of godly honesty, for, to change, we first need to accept that we need to change. As hard as it is, the mirror is necessary, but only to take the next step.
“…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Only after honesty will the hope of transformation take place. One’s reflection is not revealing who you will always be; but rather, who you are at that moment. You can decide to be changed, or as Paul says, “BE RENEWED…” This carries the idea of being spiritually transformed, to take on a new mind. This pull between old and new expresses itself when he says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2). It is a decision to think differently and thus act differently. Our desires begin to change as we seek to be consumed by God’s love and His will. Psalm 19:24, “Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Such change would not be possible without the strength of our Lord and the redemption that cleanses my past.
That is the hope of transformation! God takes us where we are and brings us places we never thought possible. The fruit we bear is the result, at least in part, of someone who desires to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2nd Peter 3:18). The world around us may see our flaws, for we are a work in progress. But may they also see the transformation taking place and the hope you have in the One that makes it possible.