Christianity means change is possible. Deep, fundamental change. It is possible to become tender-hearted when once you were callous and insensitive. It is possible to stop being dominated by bitterness and anger. It is possible to become a loving person no matter what your background has been.
The Bible assumes that God is the decisive factor in making us what we should be. With wonderful bluntness the Bible says, “Put away malice and be tenderhearted.” It does not say, “If you can . . . ” Or: “If your parents were tender-hearted to you . . . ” Or: “If you weren’t terribly wronged or abused . . . ” It says, “Be tender-hearted.”
This is wonderfully freeing. It frees us from the terrible fatalism that says change is impossible. It frees us from mechanistic views that make our backgrounds our destinies.
If I were in prison and Jesus walked into my cell and said, “Leave this place tonight,” I might be stunned, but if I trusted his goodness and power, I would feel a rush of hope that freedom is possible. If he commands it, he can accomplish it.
If it is night and the storm is raging and the waves are breaking high over the pier, and the Lord comes to me and says, “Set sail tomorrow morning,” there is a burst of hope in the dark. He is God. He knows what he is doing. His commands are not throw-away words.
His commands always come with freeing, life-changing truth to believe. For example: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other [that’s the command], just as God in Christ also has forgiven you [that’s the life-changing truth]. Therefore be imitators of God [command], as beloved children [life-changing truth]; and walk in love [command], just as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma [life-changing truth]” (Ephesians 4:32–5:2).
There is life-changing power in the truths of this text. Ponder them with me as you pray for that power to change you.
1. God adopted us as his children.
We have a new Father and a new family. This breaks the fatalistic forces of our “family of origin.” “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, he who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9).
The late, Dr. D. James Kennedy said, “The vast majority of people who are members of churches in America today are not Christians. I say that without the slightest contradiction. I base it on empirical evidence of twenty-four years of examining thousands of people.”
How well do you believe this verse?
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
This is something quoted often inside Christianity, but is not always believed. The gospel at the core is not designed to be something easy to follow, but rather to be hard for a mind to accept. It is hard to understand math, and will not be accepted by most people including those who sit in church buildings. To show an example of how challenging this gospel math is, consider the following true tales of sad souls.
Most people know the name of Jeffrey Dahmer who strangled and dismembered seventeen boys and men and cannibalized some of them. The world was shocked at the dark tale of what this man did, a true symbol of how evil a man could be. He was reported to pick up these men from gay bars, torture them, and commit unthinkable acts. Most people were ready to see this man burned alive for his crime, yet there was another that took another approach. Continue
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. 3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.
4 Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
6 Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.
8 Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. 9 The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. 10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. 11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
12 Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He[a] teach in the way He[b] chooses. 13 He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth. 14 The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. 15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses! 18 Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins. 19 Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred. 20 Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. 21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You.
22 Redeem Israel, O God, Out of all their troubles! NKJV