Psalm 55:1-19, Romans 7:18-25
It’s likely you’ve heard this bad joke, but…
How many psychologists (or psychiatrists or counselors) does it take to change a lightbulb? None, because the light bulb has to want to change. (yes, it’s a bad joke)
The reality is that there are those that seek to change and there are those that don’t. Among those who seek to change are those who do it for others, do it for self, or do it for God, or any mix of those 3. Those who seek to change may not always be successful. If one of those areas a person is seeking change is a strong habit, addiction, or physiological issue (including mental health), there will probably be a big struggle to go along with that change.
If you’ve ever gone on a diet or changed the content of your diet (like low-carb, gluten-free, etc.) you know it can be hard to change. Starting and maintaining an exercise plan can be difficult. Not overworking (i.e., workaholics) can be difficult. There are a lot of things that are hard to change. Often, as we struggle with those hard-to-change things, we beat ourselves up and sometimes we give ourselves grace.
However, with the more spiritual things, we seem to fall into 2 severe camps: either we don’t try to change at all, or we try so hard that we discourage ourselves. Now, there are different reasons why we fall into those 2 camps, but those are neither here nor there.
Between David and Paul, though, we see the real struggle. David calls out those who will not change. Paul aligns himself (actually, calls himself) with those who want to change (to be more like Jesus), but keeps messing up. Unless you’re Jesus, you’re one or the other.
As you are reading this, it’s probably safe to say that you “fall” into the “camp” of Paul and any honest (with their self) Christian. You are trying to mature in your faith. You could be doing it to be a better example for someone. You could have been one of those that hit rock bottom, and God gave you the hand out of it. You could “just” be trying to please God by “improving”.
It does matter why, and ultimately God must be at the heart of it for it to be good change. However, even with God at the heart of you, the rest of you may not be up to it. There are two pieces of advice: don’t give up, and don’t defeat yourself by acting like the condemner. God convicts, yes, but that is to acknowledge that you fell short. God loves so that you continue to strive. The condemner, on the other hand, does everything possible to keep you from getting up and trying again. That is not God.
1) Do you have a particular issue that you are struggling with right now? Are you happy or frustrated by your progress?
2) As we pursue Christian maturity, why is it critical to understand the difference between conviction and condemnation?
3) Do you find Paul’s words helpful or not? Why?