When you hear the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, who do you think of?
It’s probably someone over 50 years old. Not that they’re old or a dog; they just tend to be set in their ways. Many times when someone is described as “set in their ways”, it means that they have been the same way for a long time, and nothing changes them or impacts them. Their thinking, routines, outlook, and interest seem to be frozen in time. You’ve probably heard them describe themselves as, “This is who I am”. They never feel like they need to change for anyone or anything.
This can be very frustrating when you are trying to communicate with someone who is set in their ways, especially if you are married to him or her. Because we each have our own ways. So the frustration, tension, and conflict comes up because you want them to see things your way. Or, you want them to consider your way. And sometimes, you really just want them to do things your way. But because they are set in their own ways, they will not budge. Does their stubbornness make sense? They always think they’re right; but how often are they really?
So when we think of being set in your ways, it’s always negative. Can being set in your ways ever be a good thing? Only if the ways that you are set in, are what?! The ways of God! So, if you are someone who follows the ways of God, and you are bold enough to be committed to them, trust them, and never change them- then it is good that you are set in your ways! How do I know this?
Because God is set in His ways!
Think about it… in all of the things that I mentioned-
People set in their ways have been the same way for a long time, and nothing changes them or impacts them. Their thinking, routines, outlook, and interest seem to be frozen in time. You’ve probably heard them describe themselves as, “This is who I Am”. They never feel like they need to change for anyone or anything.
Now remember how you felt when I mentioned our relationships with those set in their ways-
This can be very frustrating when you are trying to communicate with someone set in their ways, especially if you are married to him or her. Because we each have our own ways. So the frustration, tension, and conflict comes up because you want them to see things your way. Or, you want them to consider your way. And sometimes, you really just want them to do things your way. But because they are set in their own ways, they will not budge. Does their stubbornness make sense? They always think they’re right; but how often are they really?
God gives us all His Word in the Bible, but reveals His ways to some of us.
The few chosen that He reveals His ways to are responsible for leading by His example, and showing those ways to others. Being used by God as a holy leader in this way can be very frustrating and cause much conflict between people. Because people, man as a species, have free will. So we cannot force them to do things God’s way. We cannot convince them to do things God’s way. We can only guide them and show them what it looks like when we move and live in God‘s Ways.
Then we hear the inevitable, “You think you’re holier than thou”- from Christians!
This insult used to embarrass me because as humans, leaders make mistakes too, of course. I have found the difference is the recovery from those mistakes. At this point- I discern if it's worth my energy, then choose whether to respond or stay silent because… it only matters what God thinks of me!
When God sees me, He sees Jesus!
And that’s why I pray in Jesus’ name- because Jesus is the one with the power and who intercedes between me and God. And if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, this is true for you, too!
So when we do something wrong and ask for forgiveness in Jesus’ name, God graces us with His forgiveness and forgets what we did immediately. It is us who hold onto things. God‘s way is to release it immediately and forget about it forever. He is the definition of love. When God says, “Love keeps no record of wrongs”- He means that he does not actually keep a record of our wrongs.
We do. We keep records of wrongs for ourselves and other people. That is not God, or His way.
We are to forgive, and forget. Is the forgetting that feels hard for us humans- because we use our own strength. But is anything too hard for God? We must, like God, forgive over and over and over and over again. Because that is God, and He does not change. What would it look like if God was not set in His ways?
In The Middle Of The Road And Don't Know Which Way To Go
A few weeks ago while vacationing in the mountains, I was about to take a 40-minute drive from a tourist attraction back to our vacation home. Since I was in an unfamiliar town that had mountain terrain, I relied on my GPS. There were two routes- one to drive through a mountain, and one to take the highway. Earlier that day, I had taken the complex mountain route. So I was adamant not to go that way again, especially since it was nighttime.
Shortly after getting on the highway, there was an accident ahead of us that was so bad- it shut down the highway completely. I kept following my GPS as it continued “rerouting” me around this accident. In my mind, I thought the highway was better, and it was also supposed to be quicker! I was so set in my way of taking the highway because I was afraid of driving through the mountain again. What started as a 40-minute cruise down the highway, turned into almost three hours of driving in circles!
This is what it would look like if God was not set in His ways. We would be so unwillingly lost because the instructions are unclear and the directions keep changing! We would not know what to expect along the way or from Him! We would not know what to do- especially when things don’t go as planned. Back to my vacation drive- Finally at my wit’s end, I decided to drive back to the tourist attraction and start my route over. This time, I took the mountain route. To my surprise, I drove it so well that no one went around me in the passing zone! In the end, it was just 30 minutes to get through the mountain! In hindsight, I can see that I was afraid of something God told me I have power to move anyway!
Embracing God's Guidance with Divine GPS
Doesn’t it make more sense that God- knowing all, being everywhere at the same time from before the beginning of time until forever throughout the generations, knowing you before you were even thought of or announced to your birth parents or caregivers- is the One whom you can trust to know the best possible ways for your path, results, successes, desires of your heart, fulfillment of your purpose, and destiny?
Understand that because God gives us free will, we can actually do things our way, and be set in them. What keeps “rerouting” us is our feelings. Our stubbornness and unwillingness to learn and practice His ways keep us driving in circles. Now why on earth do you want to settle for that life?
Perhaps, you already know there’s a better way. But with your feelings leading you instead of God, you come up with ways to justify why you are right. I want you to take a moment and ask yourself why your way is better than God’s? If you didn’t believe your way is better than His, you wouldn’t be doing it your way. So again I ask, “What makes you think your ways are better?”
Discovering the Power of Seeing Yourself Through God's Eyes
After years of shame and feeling undeserving of the authority to be who I am and do what I do- I’ve learned to use my same eyes, with a different sight.
What they said was, “You think you’re holier-than-thou.“
What I heard before (old sight) was, “You think you're better than me, but you’re not. In fact, you’re worse because you actually believe you are special.”
What I hear now (new sight) is, “I think you’re holier than me. You set the bar high and I doubt my best efforts are good enough.”
So now what I do is confirm God’s truth- I am holy: devoted to the service of God and SET apart for a specific purpose. That doesn’t mean more holy than you or anyone else because it’s not a comparison. I released all shame of living to be more like Jesus and loving who I am now because His glory made me set in this way!
S is for surrender. Will you surrender your ways and your plans to God step-by-step, day by day, moment by moment, hour by hour – so that you can seek His kingdom, and what His Will is for you on this earth?
E is for execute. Execute as in kill off the ways of the world, and your ways that are not God’s ways; and execute on the action with the steps God has ordered for you.
T is for trust. Be honest with yourself, do you trust God? Can God trust you?
So I ask you, what are the ways that you are set in? Do they in fact align with God’s ways? God's way is to continue moving forward in love, to love. So regardless of feelings, as His children, we are to go to Him because He is our loving father. I’ve always said, God don’t bless no mess. As God is the God of order, He lays out the order of things in His Word. We are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind; and love our neighbor as yourself. We must seek to advance God’s Kingdom here on earth. He will order your steps and guide you through your path and detours – with his unchanging hand – because He loves you- but only when you are willing. Your free will can choose God‘s will for your life and you, too, can be set in your ways!
1 Kings 3:1-15 NIV
Backstory [”Solomon made a peace treaty with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, by marrying his daughter. Solomon brought her to the City of David. This was when Solomon was still building his palace, the Temple of the Lord, and the wall around Jerusalem. The Temple to honor the Lord had not yet been finished, so people were still making animal sacrifices on altars at the high places. Solomon showed that he loved the Lord by obeying everything his father David told him to do, except that Solomon continued to go to the high places to offer sacrifices and to burn incense. King Solomon went to Gibeon to offer a sacrifice because that was the most important high place. He offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.]
While Solomon was at Gibeon, the Lord came to him at night in a dream. God said, “Solomon, ask me what you want me to give you.”
Solomon answered, “You were very kind and loyal to your servant, my father David. He was faithful to you and lived a good, honest life. And you showed him the greatest kindness when you let his son take his place as king. Lord my God, you have made me the king in my father’s place, but I am like a small child. I don’t have the wisdom I need to do what I must do. I am your servant here among your chosen people. There are so many that they cannot be counted. So I ask you to give me the wisdom to rule and judge them well and to help me know the difference between right and wrong. Without such great wisdom, it would be impossible to rule this great nation.”
The Lord was happy that Solomon asked for wisdom. So God said to him, “You did not ask for long life and riches for yourself. You did not ask for the death of your enemies. You asked for the wisdom to listen and make the right decisions. So I will give you what you asked for. I will make you wise and intelligent. I will make you wiser than anyone who ever lived or ever will live.
And I will also give you what you did not ask for. You will have riches and honor all your life. There will be no other king in the world as great as you. And I will give you a long life if you follow me and obey my laws and commands as your father David did.” Solomon woke up and knew that God had spoken to him in the dream. Then Solomon went to Jerusalem and stood before the Box of the Lord’s Agreement. He offered a burnt offering and fellowship offerings to the Lord and then gave a party for all of his officials.“
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