Heart Transformation Vs. Behavior Modification

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2

The truth of the gospel is intended to free us to love God and others with our whole heart. When we ignore this heart aspect of our faith and try to live out our religion solely as correct doctrine or ethics, our passion is crippled, or perverted, and the divorce of our soul from the heart purposes of God toward us is deepened.” (Sacred Romance.)

Over the years, it’s sometimes taken a 2×4 to my head for God to get me to change. Let’s just start there. I can be stubborn! Sometimes I want to change, but it takes a miraculous God type intervention to get my attention! I know you can relate. The apostle Paul could. Just read Romans 7.

With that said, notice Eldredge doesn’t start the above paragraph by saying, the truth of the gospel is intended to help people modify their behavior. If our Christianity becomes solely about just being a good ethical person, we simply become duty driven, and finally, bored, nice guys. Think Ward Cleaver.

I refuse to believe Jesus died just so we could dutifully attend church, give our tithe and send our children to Sunday school.

Bottom line, there just has to be more!

Heart Transformation Vs. Behavior Modification

I first heard the title of this post years ago from Pat Morley in his book, “No Man Left Behind.” It’s a ministry philosophy used to teach leaders to inspire people in their faith. I think mostly because, Ive never witnessed hell fire and brimstone messages inspire men to live adventurously from their hearts.

There are numerous ways leaders can attempt to change people’s behavior, and I don’t suggest using guilt or fear, not a good idea. But, winning a persons heart is a tremendous way to begin. And God is the best heart transformer I have ever seen! It’s why I have enjoyed gathering people in small groups or at retreats. These activities when mixed with Inspirational Biblical teaching, adventure and good fellowship, creates an environment that allows God to transform our hearts in Christ Jesus the way maybe God had intended.

As I have ministered to men over the years, I have witnessed first hand the miraculous ways God has changed men.

The divorce of our soul from the heart.

I have witnessed the reconciliation of a mans soul to his heart. I have seen this reunion deep in a mans soul several times and it’s fascinating to witness.

As men’s hearts are transformed, and they then begin to live in the story God has written for their life they become alive. They look and seem different. There is an extra giddy up in their step. And they always want more; more depth, and deeper strength in their hearts.

On the contrary, I have met men who have spent lifetimes in the church, who are bored to tears but very nice and dutiful. They “know” about our Savior, but there is a wide disconnect between their mind and the heart. You can see it.

They are divorced from the life giving heart that God gave them. And, sadly a lot of men are stuck being that bored, dutiful nice guy, and that bums me out. Because I know it doesn’t have to be that way. They are saved and born again, yes, but dead and bleeding out on the inside. They have been beaten down by religion and lost in the ritual of religion and duty. If only, they think, I could just manage my sin better. Or implement the 3 steps to being a better husband or father. That is not the freedom Jesus is offering. I have to conclude some have not been shown another way. Again, behavior modification, is not the answer that changes a mans life and inspires the heart. Change comes later.

It’s not until they are brought into the deep fellowship of the Trinity that their hearts begin to transform and come alive and It’s fascinating to witness and be a part of. Because we are witnessing the power of the Holy Spirit move and inspire men to walk, abide and live in and through the Spirit of God, alive and awakened.

Our men’s ministry lead team at church used to meet and think of creative ways we could gather men to inspire them into the ways of God. Ways that would get them to just simply fellowship, shoulder to shoulder, as my buddy used to say. Why? Because we knew, once we could get a man to attend, we would then be able to inspire them or put them in a situation that would allow the Holy Spirit to transform their heart.

Inspiring men to walk with God with an awakened and strengthened heart in Christ, that’s a exciting ministry to be a part of! 2×4’s are painful, sometimes effective, but painful.