From Bad Behavior to Good Works

We often focus our attention on changing behavior. But when we get a greater glimpse of identity, of who we really are, it can lead to a domino impact of changes in our life. The reality is, we often live out of how we see ourselves.

The Apostle Paul addressed the treasure of our identity when he wrote:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:10

Here is the phrase for your identity formation: “we are His workmanship.” You are the creation of God, formed in beauty and in power. As believers, you were created in Christ Jesus, for what? “Unto good works.” He formed and fashioned you so that if you live in accordance with that identity, good works are gonna begin to manifest out of you.

We live in a society where we focus on trying to change people’s behaviors. What we really need to do is change people’s understandings of their identities, and their behaviors will change. This applies to every sphere of life.

You want to be a strong parent? Speak into your child’s identity. Treat them according to who they are as God sees them. Instead of just yelling, “sit down, stand up, stop talking, too loud, too soft or quit playing with your sister’s hair,” which is behavior-focused, we need to become more identity focused. Certainly, it is appropriate to address bad behavior, but we need a bigger picture for effective transformation.

When you feed into a person’s identity, you give them the opportunity to see themselves differently. When they see themselves according to a certain identity, their behavior will steer towards that vision.

This is why in our communication with one another, we need to feed into the identity and potential of others with our words. We need to say things like, “Listen, I see _________ in you.” You begin to expand the potential in a person’s life and break off limiting ways of thinking, simply by how you address them.

If you only address them according to their sins, weaknesses, bad behaviors or annoyances, then you will frustrate yourself and the relationship. When you speak to potential and highlight their identity as God sees them to be, you empower their transformation. This is what changes behavior.

This is part of what Paul instructed us in when speaking to one another….

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV) 

You wanna change behaviors in people around you? Speak into the identity of who God says that they are.

Some people will rise up to it, because they will see it. The eyes of their understanding will take it in. They will be doers of the Word and apply it.

But there will also be those who don’t see it and will not take it. This is the hard part of the journey, and this is where the spiritual war lies. The battle that the enemy brings prevents people from seeing this workmanship of God in themselves; the identity that will produce good works.

There is a picture that God has for us that He is wanting to move us into, but we have to grasp the identity, and then move into a place of asking questions like, “How does my attitude need to shift to come into accordance with this?”

If God’s Word talks about the potential of who I am as His son and who I am as a believer, what mindsets need to change? If this is what He says, and it is true, how does my attitude need to shift? How do my habits need modification? What in my schedule needs to adjust around the priorities of this? What in my relationships needs to change? What in my personality needs adjusting, where I need to say “Wake up you child of God!”

If you do not grab this, chances are you’ll remain in status quo. You will go from week to week, always needing a fill up at church and from other people. Those who do not grasp their identity become needy people that demand others fill them because they lack the ability to fill themselves. Why? Because satan stole their identity. The solution is to get back into who God says that you are and the potential that is amazing over your life.

Father God, help me to see the identity that you see in me because of Christ Jesus. Help me to see where this identity needs to come into action with my thinking and behavior. 

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