Who has a harder fight than he who is striving to overcome himself. (Thomas a Kempis)
We are not alone in this challenge to overcome things within ourselves that we don't like, we know others don't like, and we are darn tootin sure God isn't very pleased with either. Since the beginning of man's walk on this earth, there have been times when bad decisions led down bad paths, and those paths led to even worse outcomes. In the end, mankind has found themselves 'trying' to clean up the mess they have made of their lives, but coming up woefully short. As a believer in Christ Jesus, we don't have to 'try' any longer. We can begin to see real and lasting change because we are no longer controlled by the pull of those bad choices - we have been given the Holy Spirit within to help us when our decisions are not going to lead to good outcomes.
But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; and here there is no conflict with Jewish laws. (Galatians 5:22-23)
But when... The moment we ask for help, we are admitting to the end of our striving. It is those 'but when' moments that determine the course for real change to occur. Those honest prayers, admitting how helpless we have been in overcoming our worst struggles are the moments when the 'road out' begins to open up before us. Some believe the 'road out' is just the 'road back', but I think God opens up new roads for us, so we don't have to retrace our bad steps one by one. Yes, he will ask us to reflect on how we got to where we are today, but not because he wants to shame us. He wants us to begin to recognize how differently our decisions are made when we allow the Holy Spirit to take the controls of our lives.
"Trying" is good - but it rarely accomplishes the development of the good traits we want to see replace the 'not so good' ones we have been habitually following. We need the Holy Spirit's presence, power, and persistence to help us where we lack the power or persistence on our own. We might 'desire' to make right decisions, but we all know what it is like to attempt to change a habit on our own. Our 'will-power' is just not enough. When we have the 'God-power' that comes when we give the Holy Spirit the controls of our lives, we stop relying on our own abilities. The fruit produced when God is at the controls is so much sweeter than us just 'trying' to yield better fruit through all that self-effort! Just sayin!
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