Ever tried to start a new regime like a diet, fitness program or Bible study schedule, only to feel frustrated after just a few days because your commitment got sidetracked? Or ever wondered why it’s so hard to get started on those New Year’s resolutions and why it’s even harder to keep them going?
The problem is that most of us try to change for the better by only dealing with our behavior instead of the real issues.
We may try to stop drinking or stop smoking, or we may try to be a more patient husband, kinder mother, etc. But the truth is that a superficial focus and analysis always leads to superficial change.
For true, lasting life change, we need to find the core issue of why we do the things we do.
In my own life, I had to get honest about my own core issue of being a workaholic. And what I realized is that my issue wasn’t that I worked too much. My issue was that deep down I didn’t feel loved. I worked hard because I wanted people’s approval.
After I took an honest look at myself and recognized my core issue, I knew I needed to take some steps to change – like memorizing God’s truth about myself and getting in a men’s small group. But I still had to find the motivation to follow through with doing the work, even when I didn’t feel like it. And, let me reassure you, I didn’t always feel like it!
The other problem most of us run into is that our motivation to change is often rooted in reasons that aren’t sustainable for lasting change.
Those motivators are our guilty feelings and selfish desires.
When we tell ourselves,“I should go to the gym and lose 20 pounds,” or “I should go to church more” or “I should stop smoking,” these thoughts don’t provide enough motivation to produce lasting change because they’re driven by guilt.
Similarly, if we’re primarily motivated to change in order to meet our own personal, short-term gains, we won’t experience lasting change either. The mantra, “If I change, then I’ll be happy,” just doesn’t work.
So how do we get beyond our guilty and selfish desires as motivation? The Bible provides us with a more effective motivator for change.
We need the motivation of accountability.
God is going to judge every single believer on account of their works, not their sins. There will come a day when we’ll stand before God and we will give an account for every act, thought and dollar we’ve spend, what we did with our time, talent and energy – and also why we did it.
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. (1 Corinthians 3:12)
When our life ends, wherever we’ve invested it, we’ll either reap a reward or some sorrow.
This is based on the law of sowing and reaping. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” There are natural consequences to our actions. (Galatians 6:7)
If we live our lives apart from the will of God, we will reap negative consequences. But when we live a life of integrity according to God’s will, over time, we’ll reap a harvest of righteousness that will impact our family, friends and co-workers.
Having this kind of accountability gives me the motivation to do the things I know I should do – even when I don’t feel like it. It also gives me the certain hope that if I do life God’s way, in time, I will reap His blessings.
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
Finally, here’s what I want you to know: God isn’t concerned as much about whether or not you go down from a size 14 to a size 6, or if you keep that gym membership this year.
God is more concerned about inwardly transforming you to become more like Christ.
And this type of change doesn’t come by faking it or by trying harder. Real change begins with transforming how you think and believe so you can come to the point of accepting how deeply you are loved. Everything else funnels from out of this.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)