Whether it’s getting in better physical shape, overcoming a destructive habit, or improving our self-image, most of us would like to change something about ourselves for the better. It is a desire that is inherent in our hearts.
But if this is true, then why is it most of our attempts to change end up in failure?
Some of us have gym memberships that we don’t use, Bibles we don’t open, and self-help books we don’t have time to read. But what we do have is a lot of guilt. We have a lot of inner voices saying, “You should do this!” and “You ought to do that!” Then when we try again we find that our attempts don’t work.
So how can we change for the better, in a way that happens from the inside out — and that lasts?
In order to have lasting change, we must begin with an internal analysis to figure out why our attempts to change don’t work. The main reason for is this is that we usually try to change ourselves superficially. We only focus on changing superficial things about ourselves like our behavior instead of getting to the real issue beneath the surface.
Here’s what I mean. Imagine an iceberg floating in the water. The part of the iceberg that is above the waterline represents our behavior. The portion of the iceberg that is below the waterline represents our speech, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, attitudes and integrity.
Most of us tend to focus on trying to change what is above the waterline only. We want to change our eating habits, lose weight, be better parents and be better spouses. But do we stop to ask ourselves why we eat when we’re not hungry? Or, why, if we really believe we need to get in shape that we don’t? Or why is it that we believe we want a better marriage but we don’t take the time to really work on it?
The key to lasting change is to be willing to look below the waterline at some of our attitudes, thoughts and belief systems that are deeply ingrained in us in order to understand how they cause our undesirable behaviors.
The Bible talks about how our thoughts and attitudes shape our behavior. This is why the Apostle Paul said, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right” (Philippians 4:8) And the writer of Proverbs said, “As [a man] thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7)
When we have the courage to look beneath the waterline to examine our thoughts and attitudes only then will we be able to see ourselves accurately. And when we get honest with ourselves, with God, and with others true change occurs. That’s because God honors our honesty and our integrity. In fact, personal integrity is the prerequisite to lasting change.
The Psalmist said, “The Lord is near to those who call upon Him in truth.” (145:18) God isn’t waiting for us to feel guilty when we fail at changing our behaviors; He is waiting to lovingly help to help us through them.
God’s Spirit is also never condemning. We can be assured that when we seek Him and ask Him to search our hearts, He promises to give us insight into our attitudes and about the lies we believe. Then, when we get honest about ourselves and confess any lies, He gives us His supernatural peace.
This week, we’re beginning a series called, How to Change for the Better. In this series on James 3, we will uncover the secret to having lasting change and we’ll explore some its common barriers. It is my hope and prayer, that as we journey together through this series we will experience a lasting a change that is fruitful and significant in the deepest areas of our lives.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip