You Can’t Change People

Aug 30, 2023

‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick.’Proverbs 13:12 NKJV

You say, ‘Surely a man or woman can change when they meet the right partner?’ No. Only God can change people—and you are not God! Plus, when you ‘need to be needed’, it can cause you to make disastrous relationship choices in life. Perhaps you have heard stories of people who have experienced massive change through their marriage. But the truth is, the power to change must come from within the person themselves, not from you. When you try to change your spouse, it doesn’t work, and eventually your ‘hope’ for change makes you ‘sick’.

The Bible tells us that delayed hope makes us heartsick. When you keep longing and hoping for something that never materialises, your heart is torn with disappointment. Then you start making excuses for what’s not working in the relationship, even as it becomes obvious to those around you. Making good relationship decisions is not based on hope alone.—especially hope that is blind to ‘red flag’ behaviour.

People of faith often try to spiritualise every issue. In the name of ‘faith’, they downplay their instincts and ignore their sense of unease. That’s not having faith in God! Faith in God should be just that—faith in God. We must not place our faith in fallible men and women, because they will fail us.

God gives each of us a will, but He doesn’t force us to change. Change must come from within each of us as we accept the grace that God extends to us each day. ‘The Lord opened [Lydia’s] heart to respond to Paul’s message.’ (Acts 16:14 NIV) Here is a better option: pray for them, and let God change them!

SoulFood: Lam 1:1–3:39, Mark 9:14–29, Ps 119:169–176, Pro 19:9–10
The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2023

Previous The Word for Today devotions