Are you ever afraid to change your mind? If we made a good decision in the past, doesn’t that mean we shouldn’t change it? If we change direction, doesn’t that mean we made a bad decision in the first place? And when we’re talking about God’s Will and sin, the thinking gets even more uncomfortable. Was I sinning if I admit I need to change? Was I not in God’s Will?
The first time I grappled with these issues was when God directed me away from a relationship that from all appearances was a fine one. When we parted ways, I wondered whether I had been rebelling against God, or whether I had missed God’s direction earlier, or whether it was possible for God to actually lead one direction for some reason, but change course later. As I examined my life, and searched the Scriptures, I realized that changing direction isn’t always a bad thing. I’m thankful that God led how he did.
The apostle Paul actually had a “sharp disagreement” with another Christian leader about a young man who proved unfaithful in ministry (Acts 15:39). Paul didn’t want to bring him on another missionary trip, and Barnabus wanted to. And yet, after a number of years, Paul calls for John Mark to be a helper (I Tim 4:11), because he was profitable for the ministry. There’s no way of knowing what made Paul change his mind, but he did.
In education we change courses all the time, too. When I’m trying to help a student succeed academically, I might suggest to a parent or teacher several interventions. Children and their situations are so complex that it’s not always possible to recommend an action that has a 100% chance of success. So we experiment. We try something, and then evaluate how our action furthers our goals. We adjust, fine tune, and sometimes turn about face when helping a child.
Parenting seems full of this same evaluation and adjustment. We understand our priorities, goals, and limitations from God’s Word, but in the freedom God has given to us as parents to meet our goals, we are constantly making adjustments. What worked with one child has the opposite effect on another. What worked when the child was one might be inappropriate at age four. Sometimes we make a decision and later receive further information. We might reconsider what we once forbade, and consequently allow. A change in environment (like a big move, or a deployment) might make change necessary.
It’s easy to get discouraged when we make changes, because we think somehow that means we failed. Or we’re afraid to make changes because we think that’s failing to stand on principle. What we forget is that we are all being changed to be more like Christ. If God’s Word by His Spirit is changing us, we’re going to see things differently as the years go by. Change is a good thing if we’re firmly anchored to God’s Word.
Romans 12:1-2 says I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Earlier, Jesus prayed, Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17)
That renewing isn’t just trying to think right through our own ideas. When Jesus prayed for us, that we would be sanctified (changed into His image), he tells us where the sanctification begins. God sanctifies us through the truth of God’s Word.
How about you? Can you think of any more biblical evidence on this topic? Do you think it matters whether the past direction is right or wrong? Have you ever had to change direction? Tomorrow I’ll tell you what I’m changing and why.