When I was a kid, my favorite record was “Bullfrogs and Butterflies” sung by Barry McGuire. We played that record so many times that I’m sure we wore it out. The theme song lyrics said, “Bullfrogs and butterflies we’ve both been born again.” It’s a catchy tune that sticks in your head the rest of your life, but when I was a kid, I didn’t realize how profound that lyric was. When you think of a tadpole or a caterpillar, they undergo a complete change. Tadpoles not only go through a physical change, they go from only being able to breath under water to amphibians. Caterpillars change from having to inch everywhere they go to being able to fly. While their outside changes, their insides remain. I wonder how long it takes to mentally convince themselves they can leave the pond or fly away from the branch.
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (NLT) When we give our life to Jesus, just like bullfrogs and butterflies, we undergo a change. It’s not physical like theirs, but rather it’s spiritual. This new creation is housed in the old body which creates some problems, but with this new life comes a change in how we think, live and act. We don’t do the things we used to do because they are no conducive to a healthy spiritual life. We were set free from having to remain in the pond of sin and selfishness and are free to breathe in God’s breath of life doing the things His Spirit leads us to do. We become free to live the life we were created to live, but many of us struggle to adapt to our new life.
It can be difficult to reconcile our faith with our public self that everyone knows. The metamorphosis that God does in our life starts on the inside and works it’s way to the outside by how we live. For some people they get an instant change, while most of us spend our lives growing and maturing in our faith step by step. As Jesus moves closer to the center of our life, we will become more like Him in how we think, live and act. Don’t compare your growth and spiritual metamorphosis to someone else’s. Let God do His work in your life as you continue to pray, read the Bible and live in your freedom. Remember that Romans 8:1 reminds us that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. Your new life will continue to be at odds with your old one. Don’t beat yourself up when the old life rears its head. Seek God’s forgiveness and ask Him to continue to help you to become more like Jesus.
When you read the New Testament, you find that it talks a lot about how we should live. It describes in detail how your life and actions should be different once you accept Christ into your heart. It’s very clear that we are not saved by those actions, but they should be the fruit of a life that has been changed from the inside out. In other words, our actions should line up with what we profess to believe. The Bible is very clear that there should be a distinction between how we live, act and speak as Christians and those who aren’t.
Just like an apple tree can’t produce oranges, our lives should produce the fruit of the Spirit instead of the fruits of the flesh. You’ve heard the saying that actions speak louder than words. Are your actions confessing Jesus louder than your words? Our faith should be seen through our actions. I love the quote, “Preach at all times. Use words when necessary.” It reminds me that my actions matter because that’s what other people see. Our goal should be that the fruit of our actions points people to Jesus.
Here are some Bible verses on the importance of our actions.
1. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
Matthew 7:20 NLT
2. My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.
1 John 3:18 GNT
3. So now it’s clear that a person is seen as righteous in God’s eyes not merely by faith alone, but by his works.
James (Jacob) 2:24 TPT
4. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!
Psalms 119:5 NLT
5. For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live.
One of the questions I ask young adults is, “How do you personally define a successful life?” If they struggle with the answer, we fast forward until their 80 and look at their life. Then I ask, “If you had a successful life in your eyes, what would you see?” Many times I hear people say, “Lots of kids or grandkids,” or “A full bank account,” or “Lots of property.” If they know where they want to end up, they can start working towards getting there. Now let’s flip the question, “At the end of your life, how will Jesus know you lived a successful life?”
I don’t mean that question as a Jesus Juke. I want you to think about whether you’re living for yourself or for Him. Do your goals match up with the goals He has for you? 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them” (NLT). If at the end of your life, you attained your measure of success, but not His, you’ve failed. In Mark 8:36, Jesus said, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”
2 Corinthians 5 goes on to tell us that when we are in Christ, we receive a new life. With a new life comes new purpose. We no longer are to live for ourselves (old life). We are to now live for Christ (new life). This new life produces different fruit than the old one. The definition of success changes because your purpose changes. If you’re still working under your old definition of success in your new life, spend time asking God what His definition of success is for your life. It’s not too late to begin fulfilling your purpose in your new life.
One of the things my dad has said my whole life is, “Do as I say. Don’t do as I do!” He’s always said it jokingly, but now that I’m a parent, I get it. My son mimics everything my wife and I say or do, especially the things I wish he wouldn’t. It’s hard to discipline him when he says, “But you just said that.” As a parent, I wish he’d follow my instructions instead of my example a lot of times. Parenting would be a lot easier!
We’ve heard it said our whole lives, “Actions speak louder than words.” We can say things all we want, but if our actions don’t back it up, people won’t believe what we say. I’m sure right now you are thinking of people in your own life who are guilty of this. When our actions don’t back up what we say, we lose credibility. When we lose credibility, we don’t have a leg to stand on. That’s why Paul was adamant in his letters to Timothy and Titus to be good examples.
In Titus 2:7, Paul wrote, “In all things you yourself must be an example of good behavior” (GNT). He wasn’t talking about being a parent though. He was talking about our Christian life. The world has too many “Christians” who profess Jesus with their mouth, but deny Him by their life. How can we win the lost if our lifestyle is no different than the world’s? When we accept Chris, we become a new creation. Our old way of living is gone.
Paul writes over and over about how we should live as believers. What He’s telling us is that our life should be an example of what Jesus can do. He can take all of our brokenness and mess ups and make us new. It’s not saying we won’t fail or sin again. That’s going to happen because we’re all human. When we are being led by His Spirit rather than our flesh, we become the examples that the world needs to see. We won’t have to tell them, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
For three years the dis piles followed Jesus. They witnessed people receive their sight having been born blind. They watched leprous skin clear up right before them. They were standing there when Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb four days after he died. They handed out the five loaves and two fish to the 5,000. They not only saw Jesus walk on water, they saw Him calm the wind and waves. They had countless fireside discussions that you and I will never know about. That’s why I’ve always been baffled by this one thing that happened after the resurrection.
John 21:3 says, “Simon Peter said to the others, ‘I am going fishing.’ ‘We will come with you,’ they told him” (GNT). After all they had seen and done, they went back to their old life. It’s hard for me to comprehend how they could experience everything they did, and then just simply go back to their old life. Had they forgotten that Jesus had told them that from now on they would be fishers of men? How could they go back to being regular fishermen? No matter how perplexing it is, I have to wonder if we are any different.
We may not have seen those miracles as they did, but if we accepted Jesus as our savior, we experienced the power of God in our own life. We felt that initially cleansing feeling and the peace that passes understanding. Yet somehow, many times we go right back to our old way of living. We know we are supposed to be a new creation, but that old life that’s supposed to be dead and buried, calls out to us and tempts us to go back. Even though we experienced the power of the resurrection, we sometimes live as though it had no affect on our life.
That life is as fruitless as that night of fishing for the disciples. The great news for us is that Jesus is on the shore calling out to us, “Have you caught anything?” Then He reminds us to cast our nets on the other side. He reminds us to return to Him and to live our life in the power of the resurrection. When we live that way, our nets will be full. Jesus’ words to them that morning were simple: Follow me. That call goes out to us too. You can’t follow Him and go back to your old life at the same time. Each of us have to make that choice.
If you ever watch a gecko, you’ll notice that they blend in to their environment really well. They have an ability to change colors so they fit in wherever they are. They change colors and patterns as part of their defense mechanism. Once their environment changes, so do they. Their life doesn’t change even though their external appearance does. Contrast that with a caterpillar who enters a cocoon and emerges as a butterfly. His change is permanent because he underwent a transformation and not just a quick change. His life is different in everything he does after his change.
That’s the difference between change and transformation. Change is temporary and doesn’t really affect who you are. You adapt to the hanging environment around you, but then once that is over, you go right back to being who you are. I’m familiar with this because I’ve lived that way. I’d change my colors to reflect the environment of the people I was around. When I was at church, I’d use my head knowledge of the scriptures to wow those in the environment around me. I blended in pretty well. I knew what to say, how to say it and when to say it.
When I was out with certain friends, I was able to change my colors to reflect that environment. I could tell jokes that would make my mom scrape my teeth with Ivory soap. I could be rude, crass and everything they expected me to be. I knew what to say, where to go and what to do. I fit in well in their eyes. I blended in with the group. Isn’t that what we really want? To blend in, be accepted and to be a part of the group. So we change who we are temporarily to reflect the environment we’re in. We become someone else in hopes of being accepted. When we get back home and it’s just us and no one else, we change back to our real colors.
It wasn’t until I was transformed though, that I became someone else. I can look back at the person who I was before my chrysalis and see a completely different person than I am now. Change is temporary, while transformation is permanent. Change is easy, transformation is painful and hard. It took being in a cocoon of pain and suffering to permanently change me. I grew wings through the suffering and my whole mindset changed. I began to see life differently and no longer had to adapt to my environment because I could rise above it.
When God saves us, it’s not a temporary change. It’s a transformation. It requires painful separation from who we once were to who we’re becoming. It means we have to make the hard choices to leave behind the life we lived before so we can embrace the new life He has for us. Instead of changing back and forth from environment to environment, God desires to continuously transform us more into His image each day. The transformation is a journey that will continue throughout life. I’m done with change and living for transformation.
Who do you find yourself relating to more, the gecko or the caterpillar? Are you tired of trying to change all the time in order to meet the expectations others have of you? Do you wish you could just be the person God made you to be? Romans 12:1 calls us to be transformed into a new person by changing the way we think. He wants to renew our minds and transform us, not just change us. He wants to create something new in your life. Ask God today to help transform you more into who He created you to be.