“Do you want your circumstances to change, or do you want to change your circumstances?” Think about it. This is a critical question. It’s a question that our congregational care team asks when we meet with people who are undergoing some type of struggle. It’s important to discern and assess what the real needs and issues are and how we can help as a church.
Many people simply want someone else to "fix" their circumstances or problems, but they're not willing to go through the process of being equipped and mentored in order to change their circumstances. Sometimes we can find ourselves in such a deep hole financially, relationally or spiritually that we pray someone will come along and change our circumstances for us. In fact, some of our prayers are like this: "Lord, if you would just miraculously fix my marriage (or kids or job or _____), I would greatly appreciate it!" Have you noticed, however, that rarely does God swoop in with the "miracle card" and fix everything for you?
When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, the first two temptations were to "fix" Jesus' circumstances, and Jesus resisted both times (Luke 4:1-8). Picture the scene. When Jesus was fasting, Satan asked Him, "Are you hungry? Let me fix that for you by reminding You, Jesus, that you have the power to turn these stones to bread." One of the great lures of humanity is to have power and fame, and so Satan asked Jesus, "Do You want to have authority over all the kingdoms of the world? Let me fix that for you. Just worship me, and it will all be Yours." But Jesus doesn't fall into the trap of "letting" Satan try to fix His hunger or His fame. Sure, it would have been easier for Satan to "fix" those things for Him, but Jesus knew He had to make hard choices in doing what was right to change His circumstances (and the circumstances of our world), rather than just wanting someone to change things for Him.
So how does this apply to discipleship? Simple. Do you want someone else to "fix" you and give you "spiritual growth pills" that will miraculously change your circumstances, or are you willing to change your circumstances of spiritual growth and faith development? It's a lot easier to sit and listen to someone preach the Word rather than being equipped to study the Word. Don't get me wrong. We need to hear the Word preached. We need to gather with others to worship our Lord. But the biggest part of our spiritual growth comes when WE decide to change our circumstances rather than hoping our circumstances will somehow change.
This requires INTENTIONALITY in two areas: the positive and the negative. Concerning the positive, ask yourself what you need to do on a daily basis to grow as a follower of Christ. What are the positive things you can do such as schedule time every morning to pray and study the Bible? Make positive decisions to be pro-active concerning your spiritual growth. Commit yourself to a Life Group and an Adult Bible Fellowship group. Commit yourself to be engaged in weekly worship and service as part of the body of Christ. And, secondly, be intentional in identifying the negative things that are spiritual growth inhibitors, and then STOP DOING THEM! If watching certain movies or reading certain books drags you down spiritually, then don't watch or read them. If hanging out with certain people at certain places where you engage in certain activities isn't helpful in your relationship with Jesus, then stop hanging out with those people in those places which encourages you to do those things. This isn't a legalistic appeal. This is common sense. And I'm not encouraging you to become a monk where you're cloistered away from the real world (although that might not be a bad idea for some). The key is to let the right things come into your life (Philippians 4:8-9), and keep the wrong things out of your life (Galatians 5:16-21). This isn't rocket science, but Jesus does call it the "narrow gate" (Matthew 7:13-14). Just because something is simple to understand doesn't mean it's easy to do. Spiritual growth is hard word, but the payoff is absolutely incredible--a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and a joy that is incomprehensible and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8)!
I challenge you over the next few days to think and pray about your relationship with Jesus Christ and take ownership of your commitment to grow spiritually. Again, I ask, "Do you want your spiritual circumstances to change, or do you want to change your spiritual circumstances?" The choice is yours.
Original publish date – 11/15/12