31Look! Days are coming–a declaration of YHWH–when I will enact a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant I enacted with their ancestors on the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant even though I was their lawful lord–a declaration of YHWH. 33This is the covenant that I will enact with the house of Israel after these days–a declaration of YHWH. I will put my instruction inside them, and on their heart I will inscribe it. I will be their God and they will be my people. 34They will not longer teach one neighbors or relatives saying, “Know YHWH, because they will all know me, from the least to the greatest–a declaration of YHWH. I will forgive their guilt, and their sins I will remember no longer. — Jeremiah 31:31-34
One of the hardest things to do is to change your usual or normal behavior. I know this in my life, because even when I determine to change something, it will often take weeks for me to establish a new habit. Establishing new habits is pretty useful. Often we get to doing things one way and then circumstances change, or some other person gets involved, and the old way of doing things just won’t do any more.
What drives such changes? Sometimes it’s ambition, sometimes love, sometimes sheer stubbornness. But there always has to be something inside you that makes you want to change your behavior in some way.
It’s Wednesday, â€œhump day.â€ We’re working to get through the week. Those co-workers and even friends and relatives have had plenty of opportunity to get on our nerves. We’re eagerly awaiting the end of Friday so we can get away from them. If we can just make it through the day, we’ll be more than halfway through, and that will feel good!
But is that who we are supposed to be toward others? Am I supposed to avoid the folks I really don’t want to talk to today? Am I supposed to simply endure their existence? Sometimes that’s what happens to us.
Here are three suggestions for changing your heart toward other people, and thus your behavior. Yes, I know, God promises to write on our hearts, but he likes to work with us.
- Make criticism a tool rather than a way of life. In seminary, I got so critical of sermons I could hardly listen to them any more. I tested them all against my exegetical knowledge and generally found them wanting. Now hat’s a fairly arrogant attitude for a student, but let’s think about all those things we may experience from people who may be less expert than we are. What about the music at church? What about that speech at a meeting at work? Criticism is usefulâ€”it is simply testing and choosing the best. That’s a good thing that can become bad when you make it a way of life. If you’re critical all the time, you won’t get to enjoy yourself at all.
- Think salvation. It’s hard to be angry with someone when you hope to share the gospel with them. God is in the business of redemption, shouldn’t you be too?
- Look at yourself first. Ask yourself why you are doing a particular thing, and try to be honest. Often you’ll find solutions if you just realize why. My mother used to tell me that I couldn’t fix other people. I could only fix my part. Focus on fixing your part.
The Lord is writing on your heart. Sometimes when you look inside, if you’re not too critical of yourself, you’ll find that you’re really than the person you’re showing to the world. That’s Jesus in there, trying to get out.