Knowing what we should do doesn’t mean we do it. We all know that – and whether it is
good health advice we accept (but don’t do) or something personal we want to do but
find ourselves struggling with again and again – we are very much aware that changing
behaviour can be really hard at times.
Knowledge might be regarded as power but it doesn’t necessarily motivate – even if it is
presented to us repeatedly and at an increased volume! A lot of our behaviour isn’t
grounded in reason and being rational – we are
also emotional, hormonal, psychological, and spir-
itual. Why we do things depends on who we are
and on our situation. And it strikes me that change
can come from both – who we are inside and from
our environment. Changed behaviour might come
in a flash – think Saul on the road to Damascus or
the unexpected gift of genuine forgiveness given –
or it is more like the growth of a plant – the fruit on
the vine – which grows each day imperceptibly but
is noticed over a longer period of time.
I remember a long time ago being flummoxed
when I was told by a person that he didn’t care about hell and it seemed to my teenage
brain of the time both preposterous and mystifying but it occurred to me that just as tell-
ing people that their lifestyle might hasten their death can lead to no change in lifestyle
so death and hell really can’t be used to motivate (scare?) people to follow Jesus.
We know that this world is about living as best we can but with standards, judgements,
and accountability from family, work, society, and in fact in every relationship we have.
Yes, religions all present their own standards, judgements, and accountability but as I’ve
said knowing something doesn’t mean we do it.
That is why the story of Jesus is so important because while there is knowledge there, it
is also a declaration of a relationship, a friendship, a loving concern and that whether we
like it or not, want it or not this Jesus and the God he reveals already loves and cares for
us. God didn’t ask our permission first to love us and make it possible for us to be with
him. That might infuriate our sense of importance but it becomes a comfort in the rela-
tionship with Jesus because it speaks of God’s faithfulness. It is God’s kindness that
leads to repentance (Romans 2:4) and the story of Jesus brings about growth in the re-
lationship with God.
Sometimes the shock of the sin confronts us when we see it through the eyes of others
and the mirror of God’s Word and when forgiven we seek to change our behaviour.
Sometimes it is more gradual and our behaviour changes over time, imperceptible to us
but not to others. But in both cases the Word of God – Jesus – and also the Scriptures
are nearby – and the Gospel of God’s forgiveness keeps us at it, one day at a time. GS