Have you found yourself wishing you could just be better?
If only I could run faster, smarter, and harder. If only I had more access, more training, and more resources.
On this journey called life, I’m tempted to think that my biggest problem is what’s outside of me, rather than what’s inside of me.
If the self-improvement game didn’t produce results, we wouldn’t be so obsessed with it as a culture. We want to be younger, faster, prettier, healthier, more well-liked, more strategic, and more effective. There’s no end to the ways we can try to better ourselves. (We can even attempt to defy the aging of our skin with the use of regenerating night creams.)
We are people obsessed with youth, and we often chase after it at all costs. “Be your best self! Forget your past! Remake yourself!”
But in the quiet corners of our lives, we’re confronted with the reality that no matter how many serums we use, we can’t turn back time.
Regardless of how hard we work to be the best version of ourselves right now, we can’t change the past.
There’s a limitation to self-improvement.
We often wear ourselves out trying to achieve freedom of our body, heart, or mind that we cannot achieve by trying harder.
Our constant efforts to fix what ails us come up short and leave us feeling defeated. We were made for much more than improvement or a little polishing up. Instead, we were made for a complete do-over, a new beginning, and a regeneration.
That is why Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, “I tell you the truth: unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus was a religious man, an expert at keeping the Law and perfecting himself. And yet Jesus made it clear to him: All that looks great on the outside can never get us closer to the heart of God. We must be born again.
Long before Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, the prophet Ezekiel foretold how God would restore His people: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations” (Ezekiel 36:26–27).
These words were for the Jews, God’s people, but because God’s promises extend to all of us through Christ, the hope of a new heart is for us too.
You see, our hearts are unaware of its deadness before the love of God causes us to surrender. We’re unable to have hearts that beat for God and that are soft to his ways.
A few tweaks here and there won’t break a prisoner’s heart free from the shackles of their guilt, unworthiness, and sin.
It takes the work of the Holy Spirit in you, the Father’s love upon you, and the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus, for you.
Your new heart is straight from the intentional, loving heart of God. And guess what? Your new beginning isn’t temporary.
Remember your new heart, friend…when you’re ready to give up, when you feel like you’re not enough, when shame and regret creep in, when you fear what lies ahead and when it’s tempting to keep trying to fix yourself.
Your new heart is made to carry you for the journey Christ has set before you. It’s stronger than you think because it’s a new heart given by God Himself—not as a result of your attempts at trying harder to make yourself new.
So, weary friend, have you forgotten His promises to make you new from the inside out?
We were never meant to be sustained by anything other than a new spiritual heart—one that pumps God’s new life through our veins because of God’s grace.
If you are in Christ, you are born again. You are renewed. You are a new creation. God’s divine power has given you everything you need for life and godliness. When we walk in the reality of this gift, we exercise the muscle of faith. Here, there is no looking back or covering up.
Instead, we experience a miracle we couldn’t know otherwise: We grow hearts that beat for God. With our new hearts, we have everything we need for our journey.
*For deeper reflection, listen to Ezekiel 36 today.
- Exodus 36
Adapted from Pilgrim:25 Ways God’s Character Moves Us Onward Pilgrim by Ruth Chou Simons (Harvest House).