In the day and time in which we live, we often feel the need to defend ourselves. When someone accuses us of acting a certain way, we are prone to go on the defensive.
One excuse I hear a lot is, “that’s just the way I am.” When handling a situation in a particular fashion, someone will defend themselves in that manner.
When I defend myself by saying “that’s just the way I am,” I am faulting God for my mistake.
Yes, some people are more wired intense people. Others are more sensitive. Some of us are task-oriented and others are people-oriented. But within our natural tendency, we must not neglect the power of God to change us. He is still working on us (Phil. 1:6).
Look at some of these biblical characters and notice how they changed over time.
- This dreamer boasted of a day when his family would bow down to him and yet when it happened, he acknowledged that he didn’t deserve to be there. Read how God changed his arrogance into humility.
- “But when he [Joseph] told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?'” (Gen. 37:10).
- “His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?'” (Gen. 50:18-19).
- This prophet started his ministry taking all matters into his own hand and had a hard time waiting on someone else to do a job he could do. Read how God changed this loner into a delegator.
- “Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hand grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword” (Ex. 17:11-13).
- “Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy of you. You are not able to do it alone'” (Ex. 18:17-18).
- “And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them.’ But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!'” (Num. 11:28-30).
- Peter would rebuke Christ for talking of suffering and yet his later epistle would focus primarily upon suffering. Read how God changed this prosperity adherent into a suffering disciple.
- “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you'” (Matt. 16:21-22).
- “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Pet. 4:16).
- In anger, John would desire unbelievers to feel the fiery wrath of God, but later, he would soften and express his genuine love for others. Watch how God changed John from a hellfire and brimstone preacher into a compassionate evangelist.
- “But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?'” (Luke 9:53-54).
- “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:19-20).
James & Jude [Brothers of Jesus]
- Jesus’ family at one time were embarrassed by him and wanted to silence him in order to maintain their reputation. Read how God changed these men who were ashamed to be the brother of Jesus into men who were proud to be his servants.
- “For not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5).
- “While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him” (Matt. 12:46).
- “Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heart it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind'” (Mark 3:21).
- “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1).
- “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” (Jude 1:1).
- Saul was too important to even pick up a stone to cast at Stephen but yet would later do extra work in order not to burden anyone. Read how God changed an important leader into a hardworking servant.
- “Then they cast him [Stephen] out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:58).
- “And because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade” (Acts 18:3).
- “And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way” (2 Cor. 11:9).
“That Just the Way I Was”
Instead of defending your words or actions by saying, “that’s just the way I am,” maybe we should start progressing in our walks and proclaiming, “that’s just the way I was!”
My past does not define me. My sinful personality does not define me. My God defines me, and he is not done with me yet (Phil. 1:6)!
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.