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Incremental Change vs Transformational Change

Jul 28, 2022

I have had so many conversations with people lately that have left me sad and frustrated. Sad because I see a pattern in their life that reminds me of my own. Frustrated because I know a better life is possible and a more fulfilling life awaits them, but they have to choose it. Many of the people that I have talked to recently stand at a crossroads, and they have a choice to make: incremental change or transformational change. Here is what I have noticed: consistently we choose incremental change, God offers transformational change…but transformational change comes at a price we are often not willing to pay.

Incremental change is the change the church has promised you most of your life. Incremental change is change you are in control of. Incremental change is you working harder to stop the things you keep messing up. Incremental change, at its core has you at the center trying to be better today than you were yesterday. Incremental change tells you if you try hard enough, you can: cuss less, drink less, click on pornography less, eat less, lose your temper less, spend less, lust less, lie less, cheat less. Incremental change is motivated by guilt and shame and feelings of incompetence and failure. Incremental change convinces you that if you can endure the pain of trying harder to cover up your sin and get better, then no one needs to know because “You can overcome this.” Incremental change doesn’t allow you to feel and experience grace and forgiveness because you are constantly trying to make up for the sin in your life. Incremental change carries a small price tag up front, but it robs you for the rest of your life of the peace and joy and victory God longs to provide.

There is another option. God offers transformational change. Transformational change is about surrender and vulnerability and transparency, humility and dependency. Transformational change at its core longs to destroy you and if you are willing to pay the price, it will totally destroy every part of you. Transformational change is messy and bloody and it hurts deep and it will cost you everything. It is pulling all of your junk out and laying it on the table for all to see and not caring what they think about you. Transformational change is committed to not just dealing with the symptoms of your issues, but peeling back painful layer after painful layer of your past, your dysfunction, your sin until the core problem is exposed. Transformational change is recognizing that on your best day you are a failure and a sinner and your only hope is grace. Transformational change is knowing you can never try hard enough to overcome your desire to drink, cuss, lust, eat, lie, cheat. What you can do is surrender to the God of resurrection power. Allow Him to not only destroy you, but bring you back to life.

We have created incremental change because we don’t like the pain of transformational change. Maybe you stand at a crossroads today…and you have struggled and hidden and wrestled with the same junk over and over and over again. God offers to transform you. God offers to give you a new life. It will come at a price, a very high price. But the life that you will have on the other side of confession and repentance and pain and forgiveness will be the life you have been pretending to have all of the years you have tried to change a little at a time.