“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
SOMETIMES WE RESIST CHANGES THAT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL. Because changes often require an admission of past failure, they make us uncomfortable. Called upon, for example, to change a major conviction or principle, an older person may back away: “To change, I’d have to admit that all these years I’ve been wrong, and that would mean that most of my life has been wasted!”
Sometimes, we’re embarrassed that it took us so long to see what we should do. “If this was the right course of action, I would have seen it sooner” sounds like a reasonable objection, but it may be nothing more than the product of our stubborn pride.
At other times, we’re embarrassed that it took us so long to do what we should. Often, there is no way to improve our conduct without drawing attention to the fact that our conduct needed to be improved. But again, we would do well to beware of pride. If we let pride keep us from moving forward, then we’re being held back by one of the most unhealthy influences in the world.
In most cases, however, our problem is simply that we find it hard to break away from the pull of the past. If there is some bad decision that we’ve been making for a long time, that decision is now easy to make, despite its harmful consequences. Making any other choice would require so much commitment and energy that it seems more pleasant just to stay where we are. The drowsy person finds it difficult to do anything but drift off to sleep.
Yet whatever our reasons for resisting change, we should rise above them. The Thessalonians would have had as many reasons as anyone for remaining consistent with their past. They, however, were willing to change for the better, and Paul praised them for their courage: “When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it.” When we, like these people, welcome into our lives the truth and its consequences, we may be sure that the years that have led us to that point have not been wasted. If God has been patient with us (and He surely has), let’s make up our minds that His patience will not have been in vain.
“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often” (John Henry Newman).