Have you ever made excuses for your behaviour? Shifted the blame onto something outside of yourself, therefore excusing your responsibility for your sinful action or inaction? For example, you didn’t get time to eat lunch and arrive home snapping orders at whoever gets in your way. “I’m just hungry. I didn’t mean to get angry. I just get so ‘hangry’.” Or it could have been a more serious event in your past, you were used, misused or abused which has set you down a painful path. “I just can’t help always thinking about revenge after what he did to me.”
Let’s just take a step back and acknowledge here that your situation is always significant. What you’ve been through, what you’re facing right now and what lies ahead in your future are all extremely important. Both the positive and negative. Your vast and diverse experiences shape who you are as a person for good or ill.
But does your past or present circumstance determine your future? Of course, difficult life situations will certainly have a big influence on you, but does X plus Y always equal Z? Are you stuck, defined by your experience or diagnosis, with no hope for change or progress? Something you just always have to put up with?
Not according to the Bible. God is in the business of change. He cares for you and knows your situation better than you do, but he doesn’t want you to just to stay there. 1 Cor 6:11 “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Here’s an everyday example to put this into practice. You’re driving to an important appointment in outer Melbourne and you hit bumper to bumper traffic at Sunbury. There’s no sign of relief as far as you can see. And you left your phone on the kitchen bench… How do you respond? How would I respond? My first reaction would probably be to get frustrated, angry at the inconvenience to my plans. Did the traffic cause my anger? Is it the traffic’s fault I’m frustrated? No, my anger comes from my own heart, as my desire for control was thwarted by something outside my control. God isn’t so much concerned for the traffic jam, but my response. How am I responding to the situation God has placed me in? How am I depending on Him right now, that He holds this moment in His hands?
Most of the time I can’t change the situation, but if I go to the one who can, He doesn’t usually give me the quick fix that I want. I tend to find that even when the situation doesn’t change, He is shaping me and helping me respond more like Jesus – firstly to Him, then to my situation and others around me.