The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. Isaiah 50:4 (ESV)
I believe there is an overwhelming tendency in the world and in the church to take good advice and good counsel and make it all about ourselves. Humans are terribly self-centered and we take every opportunity to bring things back to a self-focus.
Did you ever notice that in a group of women that it is rare to see them actually listening to the one speaking? It is even more rare to hear her comment on what is being said without reference to herself? No matter what the problem or issue is, the other women in the group invariably bring up something about themselves and a time that something similar happened to them. We want to think we are empathizing or sympathizing but often we are attempting to refocus the conversation on ourselves.
Life-change operates the same way, we want it to be all about us. This is man-centered living. Nowhere does the Bible tell us to be transformed so we can be happy, live our best life now, please others, or even please ourselves. When sin brings us unpleasant consequences we determine that change is needed so the consequences will go away. When we are feeling bad or sad for one reason or another we want to change so we will feel better. We change because we fear the reactions and responses of other people, or we want their approval.
We are to change to honor, please, and glorify God. We are to change and be changed because what we are thinking, believing, and desiring in our hearts is not glorifying to God. We are to change because at times we make a mockery of the cross and the sacrifice of Christ on that cross for our sin.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NASB)
The reason we change is to testify that the will of God- that which is good, acceptable and perfect- is true. The reason that we change is to glorify God by obedience to His Word and commands to be conformed to the image and likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29).
All change must be Christ-centered and cross-centered to be biblical. Nothing else will do, nothing else will glorify Him.
Christ-centered change acknowledges that there is nothing good within you to accomplish change. Have you been trying to make changes in your life? How successful have you been? Have you been merely rearranging your flesh through self-help books, resolutions, support groups, and 12 step programs? While you may be successful at surface changes, until your heart is fully engulfed in the change process your efforts will be just that- your efforts. A sinner trying vainly to change sinful habits of the heart.
Renewing your mind with Scripture will enable you to put off the sinful desires of the flesh. The selfish desires that keep you focusing only on yourself and how you feel today.
Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV)