With the new year here, so many of us long for a fresh start, a new take on our old lives. We all have regrets about what we’ve done in the past, things that we weren’t proud of. We seek to make resolutions to provide a valid focus for what we want our lives to be like. An impetus for change.
Change, however, is a greater challenge than we’re often ready to deal with.
Right after Christmas, our entire family went to an indoor soccer field and played for several hours. The younger ones played against the older ones. Girls against boys. The mix-ups were fun.
There is a unique group among us. During 2018, five of our kids brought sons into the world. To add to the fun of this soccer fest, the moms got each of their boys’ identical tracksuits. When they came out on the field, decked out in their finery, they looked like pros.
Some of the boys could play soccer. They tried hard to stay with the others, picking up pointers from the older kids. They were fascinated with looking alike. But as similarly as they were dressed, their outfits didn’t bequeath them with skills.
New outfits don’t translate to new skills.
A lot of us will begin the new year with the same focus. Wanting to look like someone they value, trying to pattern their lives after an influencer they respect, or committed to improving themselves for health or family reasons.
Appearance doesn’t change attitude. Nor does it improve behavior.
There’s a saying that has its roots in the Bible that many understand to be the challenge of change.
“Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil.” Jeremiah 13:23b
Jeremiah prophesied to Jews held in captivity in Babylon, people who had consistently ignored God and His attempts to bless them. God longed for a relationship with His people, but they’d done so much evil, following false gods who demanded child sacrifices and other abominable actions. Jeremiah tells them that as easy as it is for a leopard to change his spots is how easy it is for someone who is used to doing wrong to turn it all around and do things right.
We don’t change that easily.
Our hearts are resistant to such radical transformation because we’ve conditioned ourselves to want what we want, refusing to adjust our lives for anyone or anything else.
We want to believe in our own innocence, but our tendency is selfishness.
True change only comes through a metamorphosis of the heart. A rebirth that frees us from guilt and shame and brings genuine joy to our hearts.
It can only come through allowing Jesus to craft that change in us.
We can enter the new year with an overhaul of our priorities, appearance, and values.
It will be short-lived.
Jesus promises change that will last