Can People Change?
It’s hard to give people second chances, isn’t it? At least I often find it hard to do so. Mostly because I know they can’t be trusted and history tells me they will mess up again! They still are who they always have been.
We’ve been studying the book of Colossians on Sunday mornings at Riverbend for the month of July. As I looked at chapter 4 last Sunday, this theme of second chances came up. In verse 4 Paul writes, “He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you.” If you aren’t familiar with the name Onesimus, he is one of the main subjects of the book of Philemon. Onesimus is Philemon’s runaway slave, and Paul is encouraging Philemon to take him back, but to do so in the love of Christ.
Well here in Colossians you get the sense that Onesimus is a faithful and useful brother in the mission. One passing reference to a person in the epilogue of a letter can produce some incredible application.
The answer to the title of this post is: YES, people can change-but only through the power of God!
J. B. Lightfoot in his commentary on Colossians writes, “The man whom the Colossians had only known hitherto, if they new him at all, as a worthless runaway slave, is thus commended to them as no more a slave but a brother, no more an object of contempt but of love.” Paul himself experienced firsthand the incredible second chance of grace that our Heavenly Father gives. Paul was forgiven of the incredible persecution he had brought against the early church. God not only forgave that, but used the transformed person of Saul/Paul for even greater good than the evil he had once committed. In all of Paul’s writings we see him major on grace. He believed in the magnificent power of God’s love, which can turn a person’s life around. Paul served a God of second chances. So do we.
Do you know persons whose once wayward lives have been redeemed and changed? They hardly resemble the person, character, and countenance of who their former self was. They have been invested with new dignity and meaning through contact with Christ and the good news of salvation. It happened then. It happens now.
Are there people who have turned their lives over to Christ whom you need to extend more grace to? Are there people who you are fed up with and feel are beyond the reach of grace? Stop, and renew your resolve to continue to pray for them until they are overwhelmed and transformed by the power of God’s love.