Why Is Change So Hard?
The tree is known by its fruit . . . The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. Matthew 12:33-35
As long as I could keep my addiction a secret, I kept telling myself that I didn’t have that big of a problem. When my addiction became public knowledge, I still attempted to minimize. Sure, maybe I’ve lied, stolen, lost my job, wrecked my family, and I’m on my way to treatment, but it’s not that big of a deal. I’m still a good guy!
Honesty about his destructive nature is a problem for the addict, who continually tells himself it’s just not that bad. He just has this one little problem. The solution then, is to someday just stop the toxic behavior and all will be well. The problem is, the toxic behavior flows out of who he is. The addict behaves like an addict because he’s an addict.
Just stop it. Don’t you know it’s bad for you? The one who doesn’t struggle with alcohol, smoking, or overeating just doesn’t understand where the behavior comes from. The one who doesn’t struggle feels it should be an easily fixable problem. Maybe if I just explain how unhealthy this behavior is, the addict will stop.
Jesus, in today’s passage, explains the core issue. Destructive behavior isn’t a small external detail. Our behavior flows out of who we are. This is the truth that the addict must accept. The fruit my life produces flows out of who I am.
The solution then, as Jesus described it, is not to simply decide to stop – this works for very few people – but rather to change who we are inside. This is profoundly difficult and it’s why so many people fail. Changing who we are isn’t as simple as going on a two-week diet. Change means committing to life-long, radical transformation.
Christ said that if something is causing us destruction, we must do whatever it takes to cut it out of our lives (Matthew 5:30). He said that the normal life of a disciple is to daily abandon our path to follow his (Luke 9:23). Change is difficult, but God offers the solution. If we desire transformation, faith and recovery, daily we must do whatever it takes to abandon ourselves to follow him. In doing so, he transforms us into who we were meant to be.