When I was a child, I used to believe in everlasting consequences. I had an unbalanced concept of cause and effect, believing that the results of every action lasted forever. I am so happy to say that I was so very wrong! The thing is, it often occurs to me that many of us still believe that behaviors of the past will be part of us forever. If we don’t believe it of ourselves, we too often believe it for other people – at least we behave as if it’s true for them but not us.
How many times have we begun a statement about another person with “they always…” or “they’ll never change”? What we knew about a person’s behavior, attitudes, or actions in the past, should not keep them chained to the present without evidence that there’s been no change. After all, isn’t that the basis of our faith as Christians, to believe that Jesus came to save us from our sins and renew our hearts, giving us a new life in Him? There is so much in the Bible about the change that has taken place in people by the power and miracles of Jesus, so why would we doubt that it’s still happening today?
We must be careful about holding people to habits and attitudes that were once part of their life because it doesn’t allow for the growth and change that we claim to believe in! Many times the person we once knew (even if it is ourselves) has worked very hard to make changes. Maybe the change is a natural progression as they have grown in faith, maturity, or a personal awareness that improvements needed to happen. Regardless of how and when positive change happens, we absolutely need to allow room for change. When we don’t, we teeter dangerously close to judging people based on old information. It’s a very fine line that could cross into an attitude of unforgiveness, bitterness, gossip and even slander.
I know I have changed over the years, and I hate it when people treat me as if they know what my actions and attitudes will be, based on what they knew about me many years ago. I wish they’d allow room for the changes in me, and if I’m wishing that for myself then I know I need to allow it for others.