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Mar 2010

Change Me

I am running the Ukrops 10K in a couple of weeks.  Lest you think I have gone New-Year’s-Resolution-crazy this year in between my now-complete sugar fast and running a 6.2 mile race, I’ll have to plead a lack of planning on both accounts.  The sugar fast was a last minute thing for me, and I’ve been longing to run this festival-like race since I ran it 5 years ago.  Pregnancies and new babies haven’t made it possible till now.

But running it has made me think about how people change.  Typical Lenten fasts, new year’s resolutions, and gym memberships all seem to carry a common theme: you can change if you just behave differently.  Consider this marriage illustration from the Gospel Transformations book:

A contemptuous husband has received some advice to change his ways toward his wife.  Instead of criticizing her, he is to give his wife flowers every day for a week.  The implication is that as he does this, his heart will change.  He will become a better person and his marriage will improve.

Do you resist the conclusion you suspect this book will make?  I feel resistance in my own heart.  I want this husband to be nicer to his wife.  Sticking to a race-training plan is good for me.  Accomplishing my resolutions ought to make me feel good.  What’s wrong with changing behavior?  What could possibly be wrong with bringing roses?

…this husband (might) only become worse.  He would just incorporate his “doing” into his life of disobedience and would become more proud.  This husband is still in “god-mode:”  You must serve me; I must control my circumstances; I have the right to judge.  When challenged about his life, he now replies to his wife, “Look what I have been doing for you.”  If this wife had a choice, what do you think she would prefer: flowers or a repentant heart; roses or humility?

Permanent change only happens when repentance is the foundation of the change.  Otherwise it is a shifting of allegiances to newer idols- from the idolatry of consuming food to the idolatry of controlling food; from idolizing one’s time through slothfulness to idolizing one’s time through gym memberships; from controlling one’s wife by harshness to controlling her by gifts.

So today I’m trying to repent for letting sugar become an addiction and for my laziness that keeps me from exercising with any amount of passion.  I’ve proven to myself I can temporarily change my behavior, but I want God in this spring season to permanently change me.



Whit W.

March 15 2010 Reply

“If this wife had a choice, what do you think she would prefer: flowers or a repentant heart; roses or humility?”

I hear what’s being said here and agree completely. But what do you do when you want the repentant heart and don’t have it at the time? Do you get the roses then? Like I said, totally agree with what you’re saying, but I’m finding in my christian walk that real life/sanctification is not always smooth sailing. In fact, often far, far from it. It’s extremely messy at times. I find myself often pleading for the changed heart you mentioned. Any thoughts?

Whit W.

March 15 2010 Reply

I mean, as much as we hate to admit it, “fake it till you make it” IS a reality at times in the life of the christian.

Chris DeRoco

March 22 2010 Reply

Here are some thoughts… I think both “waiting until its 100% real” and the other extreme of “fake it till you make it” are both problematic ditches to be avoided. This issue is the motives. We should obey God and do what is right (give the roses) and at the same time repent for our mixed motives in that: manipulation, self-righteousness, etc. Conversely, the problem with the giving of roses, hoping that love is just going to appear is also misguided. Again here, the motives are wrong. Outward behavior is never a substitute for right affections and desires. Remember too that repentance and obedience are not first “feelings” either, they are decisions based on the convictions and that this side of eternity, our motives will always be mixed. There is always sin to be wary of.

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