Most of us want to change for the better. We want to be better parents, better spouses, and better friends. We want to look and feel better about ourselves. This desire for change is inherent in our hearts. God made us this way.
So why is it that lasting change is so difficult? Why do we want lasting change so badly yet achieve it so rarely? And why is it that our attempts to change so often fail?
For the same reason that so many of us have gym memberships that we never use and Bibles that are brand new yet are never opened.
Our attempts to change fail because we’re only focused on trying to fix our behavior.
Think of it this way: our behavior is only the tip of an iceberg – the part above the waterline. It’s the smallest part. Everything else – our speech, beliefs, and attitudes – make up the largest part of the iceberg, below the waterline. Our problem is that we’re only focused on changing what’s above the waterline.
Have you ever wondered why, if you really want to lose weight, you still eat even when you’re not hungry? Have you ever wondered why you have books on how to have better time management, setting boundaries, or finding peace in a hurried world, but you don’t have time to even read them? These are all examples of unsuccessfully trying to fix only your behavior. That’s why it doesn’t work.
So how in the world can we change for the better – from the inside out – and make it last?
We must live a life marked by integrity. Proverbs 10:9 says: Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
What is integrity and how do you get it? Integrity is when your “walk” and your “talk” tell the same story. To walk in integrity means getting honest with God and with yourself and examining your real issues. It means that you’re willing to say, “God, I want to see myself the way you see me. I want to see myself accurately.”
It also means you’re willing to look below the surface of your thoughts and attitudes to see the deeply ingrained values and beliefs systems that are producing some of the behaviors you want to change.
When you approach your need to change as a heartfelt repentance to please God rather than simply to get relief or feel better about yourself, then and only then are you in a position for lasting change to occur. After you do this, the choices you make will grow out of your convictions, not intentions.
I need to warn you though – this process can be quite painful and it doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re really honest with God, He’s going to let you know what your real issues are all about, because He loves you so much.
But the good news is that even though the process of looking below the waterline doesn’t always feel good, it will get better. You will also begin to have more meaningful relationships with God and others. When you walk in integrity, you’ll experience the peace of God in your life.
This week, we’re beginning the series How to Change for the Better. In it, we will unpack the process of lasting change. Our journey together will take us through James 3 as we discover how God changes us from the inside out. It’s my hope and prayer that during this series, we’ll begin to experience how change can be lasting, fruitful and significant in some of the deepest areas of our lives.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge
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