I Can’t Change

February 28, 2023 | Russ Moe

You can do it! It’s all up to you! Keep trying. Never ever give up. Determination, dedication, discipline, and desire are the keys. Commitment to “go all the way.” Will power. Self-assertiveness, self-improvement, self-actualization. Try harder. Work harder. Make something of yourself! You can do anything if you put your mind to it! Every motivational speech I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard many, proclaims the same message: self.

Self-help succeeds least for those that need change most. They possess a list of broken resolutions as long as their list of broken dreams. They’ve tried, many times. “If at first you don’t succeed …” is replaced with a new certainty: “I can’t change.”

Jesus’ message is not that of the motivational speaker. Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God and its transforming seed. Sown in the soil of a believing heart, its fruit is certain. Change occurs in everyone receiving it, not just the extraordinarily strong and the highly functional.

In 1969, my addiction to marijuana brought a 2-to-10-year felony charge for possession. Not even that could break the chains. But when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit I was completely delivered from the addiction. My probation officer was stunned by my transformation. Thank God I encountered power beyond myself. Some call this “effortless change.” Other things have taken longer but changing has never ceased (2 Corinthians 3:18).

If you think you can’t change, it doesn’t matter. God can change you. He does so by the same remarkable power that formed the universe: His word. Our part is patience, allowing the seed of God’s word to grow in us as it does for any farmer expecting a harvest. 

“Come to me all who are weary … take my yoke upon you … my yoke is easy … and I will give you rest,” said Jesus (Matthew 11:28-29). Maybe you can’t change, but you can come under His yoke. Change is incidental. It begins with trading in your strife for His rest and letting Him do the driving. What a deal! Admitting “I can’t change myself” is easy. Surrender to Christ is the opposite of turning up the will power. In the end, God gets all the credit. 

Unlike the piece of exercise equipment that has now become the most expensive clothes rack in history, God’s equipment (yoke) comes with the will power too: His.

“For it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).