Do People Change?

by Barry Newton
Recently an evening crime drama series portrayed a cynical detective who had seen too much too often. She viciously condemned a suspect as being incapable of ever changing his destructive behavioral patterns.
The question, “can people change,” influences how we interact with others and whether we believe hope exists for transformation. Can a family member who has consistently lived out a pattern of self-destruction change? Do the trajectories of peoples’ lives refract into new directions?
Isaiah relates the story of people who changed. In the 8th century B.C., when mighty Assyria threatened, Isaiah called people to trust in God rather than in being rescued by a powerful military neighbor (Isaiah 31:1-3).
His message fell on deaf ears. Apparently, Isaiah’s listeners thought real life worked differently.
As history unfolded, it was God, not Egypt, who spared Jerusalem from the invaders. God crushed the army of an empire in a single night ( Isaiah 37:36).
The opening paragraphs of Isaiah 32 foretold what would happen after God saved Jerusalem. God’s people would be transformed.
“Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen.” (Isaiah 32:3, NIV)
Can people change? Can the impulses of hearts be altered leading to new behavior, decisions and perspectives? Yes, they can. Perceiving God’s mighty actions provides an opportunity for hearts to be softened by faith and anchored upon a secure foundation.
What about us? What are we aware of? In the coolness of a Sunday morning long ago the shackles of death fell loose from Jesus. God has acted in a mighty way providing us with good reason to embrace the living hope he has provided.
Whether or not God transforms a dead heart into a spiritually alive one, or works upon the trajectory of someone’s life, comes down to how open we are to hearing, embracing and obeying.

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