Summary: How can we cooperate with God's work in our lives to transform us?
We come to the "V" in "recovery", which stands for "voluntarily." Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.
1. Where do our character defects come from?
A. My Chromosomes - They are inherited.
Your parents contributed 23,000 chromosomes each. You inherited some of their weaknesses. This explains a predisposition towards certain problems, but it doesn't excuse sin. Because of my folks, I may have a tendency to lose my temper but it doesn't excuse my committing murder. I may have a tendency to be lazy but it doesn't excuse me to live as a bum. I may tend to be given to certain addictions, but it doesn't excuse me making the choice to become addicted.
B. My Circumstances - They are nurtured.
You're raised a certain way and learned things from parents and others. A lot of defects are self-defeating attempts to address legitimate needs. We all have a need for respect. But you didn't get respect early in life, so you figured out ways to get attention. We all have a need for love. But if you didn't get love you may settle for cheap sex, to get emotional closeness. We all have a need for security but if you didn't get it, you may have tried to find it in materialism and "things."
C. My Choices - They are habitual.
If you choose something long enough, it becomes habit. Habits you never intended to develop, become habits because if you choose to do a certain thing often enough, it becomes a habit!
2. Why is it so hard to change character defects in my life?
A. Because I've had them so long.
Many of these habits may be self-defeating but at least they're familiar. Like an old pair of shoes. They may not be the best for running, but they're comfortable. It's hard to let go of them.
B. Because that's how I identify myself.
We can confuse our identity with our defect. "I'm a workaholic, or overweight, or anxious, or fearful." You can't change because you're afraid - "If I let it go, will I still be me?"
C. Because of the payoff.
My defect can mask pain; give an excuse to fail; compensate for guilt; get me attention; or let me control others. When negative behavior is repeated, even if self-destructive, it's because there's a payoff. We do what get rewarded. So we don't want to let go of it.
D. Satan discourages me.
Satan's says, "This'll never work, you can't change. Who do you think you are? Other people can change, but not you.." The Bible says Satan's a liar; but the truth sets us free. So, let's look at the truth.
3. How do I cooperate with God's change process in my life?
Romans 12:2 says, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." If you want to change your life you've got to change the way you think.
If you're in a boat and the autopilot says East, you can force it to go West, but pretty soon you get tired, and let go of the boat, because it wants to go back East. Because it's set to go East. I think a certain way and am preset to certain courses of action. I can try by my will power to redirect my life, but I soon become weary and fail. But when you enter into a relationship with God through faith in Christ, He dwells within you by His Spirit. And by the power of the person present within you, your life can be changed from the inside out, as you change the way you think! But you've got to receive, before you can achieve! You must trust in Him before He can transform you.
So if you have a relationship with God through faith in Christ, here are 7 ways to cooperate with God to change your thinking and see the direction of your life change.
1) Focus on changing one defect at a time.
"An intelligent person aims at wise action but a fool starts off in many directions." - Proverbs 17:24 (Good News)
Do too much, you'll be overwhelmed, and not change anything. So ask God what to work on, and focus on that. As the saying goes, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Let God guide you.
2) Focus on victory one day at a time.
Matthew 6:11 doesn't say, "Give us this month our daily bread." It says, "Give us this day our daily bread." Why? God wants you to learn to trust Him daily.
The old song say, "One day at a time, dear Jesus. That's all I'm asking from You." Well, one day at a time is all He's asking from us. What counts is not what I did yesterday, or what I think I'll do tomorrow. What counts is what I choose to do today. Jesus told us in Luke 9:23 to take up our cross daily.