08 Feb Why We Need to Change (and How!)
If you’re like me (and…I’ve lost some of you already…), a lot of talk about any “personal change” or “personal growth” in our culture today can come across as, well, highly self-centered. That is to say, it can sound far less about loving our neighbor or loving God, and more just about loving ourselves…more. While we do need to love ourselves (because we ought to love what God loves), what I think human history shows us is that humans are pretty good at loving themselves already in comparison to their love for God or neighbor!
Self-centered change talk sounds like this:
What’s wrong with the world is everyone else.
You are fine just how you are.
If everyone just accepted you how are, the world would be fine!
Now, of course there is some degree of truth in that (Yes! For sure! Other people do have problems, there is much good about you, and people do need to extend grace to you), but the real issue at stake is self-understanding, not self-preoccupation.
Self-understanding? Great. Amazing. Godly.
Self-preoccupation? Not so much!
The question, then:
How can we grow in self-understanding, be properly motivated for change, and not end up in the pit of self-preoccupation, frustrated by others and self in the end?
The answer: Psalm 139.
Look at what David opens the Psalm with:
“O Lord, you have searched me”. In other words, David is speaking in the past tense.
David knows that God knows everything about him already, and still loves him unconditionally, even with all his dark parts.
But (and you have to see this) what does David close the Psalm with? Something close to what he opened it with, and yet it is different, on purpose, with a twist:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!” (But didn’t David already say God knew everything about him?)
“Test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Hasn’t God already “discerned his thoughts from afar”?)
Yes and yes.
Why is David asking God for something he already knows is happening?
He’s doing it to get to this, something new in the Psalm:
“See if there be any wicked way in me…”
Ah. And there it is. All along, David has been reminding himself of how much God loves him, in order to be able to have the courage to change what needs be to changed.
Why? It’s because personal change, personal growth is hard, it’s scary, it’s draining, and it’s far easier to locate the entirety of the problem “out there” than “in here” (and, yes, of course there are problems “out there” as well).
David is calling on a deep sense of God’s love for him and how intricately and purposefully he was made, he says his “soul knows it very well”… but he doesn’t stop there.
Why does he need the love of God so much?
He needs it as the right foundation for growth, change, repentance, confession, and as we would put it: Christlikeness.
What is God’s purpose in our lives? Among other things, to conform us to the image of His Beloved Child, Jesus.
Are we there yet? Am I there yet?
No, and therefore there is always an area in which to grow and therefore a need to know what God knows:
We are loved, and therefore we can change.
Whatever you are facing today, this is true about you.
I’m glad to grow along with you,