Monday, December 19, 2016

God Changes People - We Don't

Some people in your life are just plain toxic.  Trying to fix them only makes things worse . . . but you can respect them from a distance.

This is day 7 of our 12 Days of Christmas that you can have delivered to your inbox if you enter your email above.

Day 7  


 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared.  Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

Matthew 2:7-8

Starting Point:
God changes people – we don’t.

Digging In:

Herod was nasty.

I don’t mean he was mean-spirited.  I mean nasty like cold-blooded-killer nasty.  This was a ruler who had no problem killing thousands of people in order to keep his power.  He’s killed his wife.  He’d even killed a son he thought was suspect.  The saying was that it was better to be Herod’s pig (in Greek: hus)than his son (huios). 

This was a guy who rounded up hundreds of people close to the day of his death and had them put in prison.  The order was to kill them as soon as he died so at least there would be tears on the day of his death.

See what I mean?  Nasty.

Do you think there was someone who could reach him?  Apart from Jesus, do you think there was somebody who was able to cut through all the nastiness and make him a better person?  Do you really think that his heart was ‘thawable?’

You might be right but you might also be delusional and at this time of year it is important to know the difference.  There are some people that are reachable and can change with a little effort.  Then there are others who will suck every good effort out of you and make you miserable as they cease to change their ways.

In short, there are some people that you are not going to change – maybe someone will – but you won’t.

“Hold up,” you might say.  “Isn’t that the whole purpose of Christmas?  Isn’t that the entire narrative of the season – a heart can change?  We have stories like A Christmas Carol featuring someone like Scrooge that can change.”

Of course – this is a great season for people to realize their ways and change.  Scrooges can turn it around and become good people – but look at the story.  Scrooge is an absolute monster to everyone that is mortal.  It took the appearance of a dead friend and three angelic visitors to convince him that he needed to repent.  Most people had given up on him and those that still held out hope kept their distance.  Even Scrooge’s nephew laughed when his invitation to dinner was turned down.

Keeping distance is the key. 

There are some people in your life that are just so toxic that every time you approach them they look for ways to make your life more miserable.  So you try each time to do something nice or help them see that you mean well and you wind up hurt – again and again.

The Bible is clear that no one is beyond redemption, but that doesn’t always mean you are the person through which redemption comes.  We are told to respect and honor each other but there are some people who you can honor from a distance.

Christmas seems to be one of the toughest times of the year because we once again put ourselves in the pathway of people that are just plain miserable and mean.  It is almost like they feed off of hurting people.  If you have someone like that in your life you need to assert yourself and not allow yourself to be taken advantage of . . . again.

Respect from a distance means that you make sure that you are praying for this person.  It means that you continue to do all the nice things that you would do for anyone else but it also means that you don’t have to put yourself within striking distance. 

I remember as a kid there was an attack dog owned by neighbors three houses down.  This dog was conditioned to be a guard dog and was ready to rip something limb from limb at all times.  My friend Josh and I thought it would be a good idea to make friends with it one morning.  So we ignored the warnings of our parents and walked over to the dog gingerly and started petting Jason.

Yes, the dogs name was Jason.  Freaky.

Josh and I were excited because it seemed like Jason was being receptive to our overture of gentleness. We really thought we were helping this attack dog to change.  Laughing I leaned over to count his paws and I felt the entire side of my head go in Jason’s mouth.  Jason held my head in his jaws and gave a very soft growl that indicated he’d had enough of our counseling session and it was time to leave.  Removing from head from certain death, we backed off and Jason was appreciative of us leaving.

There are some dogs you just can’t change.
Maybe God can and maybe someday He will – but you don’t have to assume that responsibility.


As much as you might really want for people to change, you have to let that be God’s thing – not yours.

Breathe in: 
“God, I really want to see (insert name here) change.”

Breathe out:
“I leave them in your hands and your will – help me let go of them.”


Who is that one person who consistently puts you down or makes you feel small?  Identify who it is and identify the situations you fine yourself in that you are repeatedly hurt.  Remove yourself from that situation today in a way that does everything you can to save the relationship but doesn’t allow you to be within striking distance. 

“I’m sending gifts, but I can’t make it to dinner.” 

“This year I won’t be able to make it to the party – thank you for the invitation.”

“I’m inviting everyone to my house this year – come join us!”

God changes people – we don’t.

No comments:

Post a Comment