Not How I Am

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Not How I Am

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We humans by nature are a curious, analytical, and introspective lot. I know few people who are not interested in why they do the things they do. We observe within ourselves that sometimes we react in ways that don't make a lot of sense to us or to others, and we wonder why. We read about what we do, we take personality tests, we seek to understand ourselves. Often we meet with some measure of success. We can trace back our current behavior to certain situations from our childhood. Or we can see that a particular relationship difficulty may be due to a difference in temperament or personality.

The tempting thing is to leave our research at that point and say “Oh, so this is why I’m the way I am.” So often we’re satisfied with simply finding the “why,” instead of asking the next question. The next question, especially for a Christian, ought to be, “What should I be like?” It is so very easy, though, to let ourselves instead feel justified by whatever circumstances have shaped us, especially when it comes to habits that irritate other people. “That's just how I am,” we want to argue.

Obviously, we cannot live long in this world without being shaped by the people and circumstances near us. And God certainly accepts us from any quarter, from any background, and with whatever quirks and behaviors we've picked up. But He does not intend us to stay there. His acceptance is not a mere formality; a matter of changing our name and then continuing on. He accepts us from where we are with every intention of taking us where He wants us to go. Our part of this journey is accepting that destination and also accepting the fact that we will have to prepare ourselves to reach that destination.

As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” If we've become new, we cannot cling to “this is how I was” or even “this is how I am.” Paul continues, “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”When two people are reconciled, it usually means that one or both must change in order for the relationship to continue.

Our acceptance of God's invitation to reconcile means that we have taken a hard look at ourselves and realized that we are not great, not mighty, not clean; it implies a knowledge that we have fallen so far that we could never get back by ourselves. And in His mercy, God recognizes the contrite heart and allows us to begin that journey back. Our conversion is not just about us and God, but also about us and other people. In 2 Corinthians 5:15, Paul comments that He died for all. In 1 John 4:20, we read, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” We love God by loving our brother. We love our brother by trying not to offend. In Romans 14:15, Paul writes, “Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.” Although he is talking about food in this instance, we can also extend that to other things that offend our brethren. Do we want to risk destroying someone for whom Christ died because of our past personal grievances and circumstances?

Not at all! Romans 12:1-2 makes it clear that we are not to remain as we are: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

We ought to recognize where we came from and how that shaped who we are: that's part of being human. But we also ought to recognize that we, as Christians, are not to stop with asking, “Why am I this way?” Instead, must go on to ask the next question, “What am I supposed to be like?”

For more helpful reading request our free booklets Making Life Work andWhat Is Your Destiny?,