Ongoing change for the glory of God is essential for the Christian
Do you need to change the way you think about and handle money? It’s important to know that, because of money’s strong influence, any real change here means deeper changes need to take place. So, here’s a critical question you need to answer: Why do you need to change? This question is really important because the why is what sets the Christian apart. In fact, the why is everything for us.
If you’re carrying ongoing credit card debt, you might say, “I need to change because the interest I’m paying is costing me money I can’t afford to lose.” Or maybe you would say, “Well, because of these credit cards I’m living pay check to pay check and it’s terrible.”
Maybe you’re someone who would say, “I need to change because I haven’t saved enough for retirement.” Or, “The old cars we’re driving are costing us way too much.” Or, “I need to change the way I handle money because I have no reserve.”
Or, maybe you’re experiencing a sudden and big disruption like a job loss or medical emergency. That usually means big change, right?
As Christians, we need to know that both the situation that creates the need to change, and our changing, is part of God’s sovereign plan for our good and his glory. He is waking us up and moving us forward. Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t struggle, but God is in this and he is for us.
Now you might be thinking, “What does managing my money have to do with the glory of God?” It has everything to do with the glory of God.
The way we relate to our spouse and children should bring glory to God. The way we conduct ourselves at work should bring glory to God. The way we connect with entertainment, and food, and money should bring glory to God.
The Apostle Paul said, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Changing for the glory of God can be difficult because it moves against our self-centered inclinations and means we’ll be living by faith. Changing for the glory of God means, by definition, that our goal in the change is to be more like Jesus. And this means we embrace what’s important to God.
So, how do we do this?
Now the truth is, change for the Christian should be easy because of our relationship with Jesus. He illustrated this in Matthew 13:44, where we read, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” If we really see Jesus like a treasure that we want more than anything else, the grip that money has on us goes away because Jesus is the goal. And so, we pursue change with joy because it brings us more of Jesus. For many, this joy takes us a long way, and we see real change. And it should make us want to find and conquer those pockets of resistance and rebellion because we want all that Jesus is for us.
The Apostle Paul testified, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil 3:8). Because Paul’s desire to know Jesus was his driving priority, everything else became unimportant.
Is this the way you connect with Jesus? Do you love him such that you long to follow him and obey him? Is he so valuable to you that everything else must go? Does the desire to deeply and personally know him dominate your life and eclipse everything else? Change must follow if your goal is to know Jesus better, right?
But the battle is real, and everyone has habits and idols that have deep roots that need to be cut away. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this. In chapter 14 of Romans, he is very transparent about his deep struggle with sin. So, how do we move forward in changing for the glory of God?
Changing for the glory of God is a multi-faceted effort. It takes more than knowing that Christians are called to become who they are in Christ. So, if you want to change, here are three elements that I think are critical in the effort:
Godly change requires knowing Jesus better
First – If we want to change, we must know Jesus better. We can only love him as we should if we know him. We can only treasure him the way we should if we know him. And when we know him, when our eyes are focused on him, the inferior promises of this world will lose their value, and we will change.
So, we must spend more time in Scripture. This is where we get to see and hear and understand Jesus. Because Scripture is the very word of God, it will not be ineffective, and the Holy Spirit will impact us.
In 1 John 2:3, we read, “…by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” When we know Jesus, we will follow him. And if we have no desire to follow or to obey, we may not know him – we might be fooling ourselves.
Godly change requires prayer
Second, We need to pray. One of the repeated concepts in Scripture – especially in the gospel of John – is that God promises to work when our desires are aligned with his desires. Here are Jesus’ words in John 14:33, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (also see John 15:16; 16:23-24)
Now, when Jesus says, “ask in my name”, he doesn’t mean that if we simply tack on in Jesus’ name to the end of a prayer, we’re guaranteed to get anything we ask for – like a red corvette or a mansion or something else that’s self-serving. What he’s saying is, if you earnestly want and pray for those things that are in line with Jesus’ desire for you, he will act.
Another way to look at this is found in John 15:7 where Jesus says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” *So, if we pray those prayers that come from inside a Jesus-saturated life, we’ll see answers.
While these are just a few examples, when it comes to finances, we should pray that God would:
- make the gospel worth more than anything else
- open our eyes to greed and selfishness
- make us aware of how we’re serving money and not God
- make us aware of and sensitive to needs that we can meet
In other words, we should pray that God would create the outcome in us that we know we should have.
Godly change requires action
The third step I’d like to talk about is ACT DECISIVELY. Now you might be thinking, well of course, if you’re going to change, then you need to change. You will need to do something differently. And that’s true. But what I’m saying is we NEED to change because our willingness to be obedient is a mark of the believer. Our willingness to change and move against the inclinations of the flesh means the Holy Spirit is in us.
Jesus said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” – Luke 8:21. In Matthew 7:21, we find Jesus saying, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
The Apostle Paul said, “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” Romans 2:13. And in James 1:22 we read, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:22.
We all must pursue change because we are all called to become more like Jesus – it’s our destiny.
Satan doth not tempt God’s children because they have sin in them, but because they have grace in them. Had they no grace, the devil would not disturb them… Though to be tempted is a trouble, yet to think why you are tempted is a comfort. – Thomas Watson