Not Stopping at Diagnosis
"Acute Bronchitis." That's what the sheet of paper told me was my official diagnosis. That's what was wrong with my body. Then the sheet of paper went on to list what I needed to do - medicines to take, things to avoid, behaviors to change - in order to speed my body back to health. How foolish would I have to be to stop reading after the diagnosis? Imagine the nurse explaining to me how to heal from my ailment and I simply turn away and say, "Thanks anyway, I'll be leaving now."
We don't stop at diagnosing our problem. The whole point of the diagnosis is to enable us to correct whatever is wrong. Imagine taking your car to the mechanic and being told, "It looks like your alternator is the problem." And then the mechanic hands you the keys and sends you on your way. Has anything improved? Is your car more driveable now than it was before you knew that? No. Not at all. Something must be done.
And that's where many of us struggle in our spiritual growth. We read Scripture, we pray, we seek counsel, and in time, we come to identify our problems.
"I have anxiety."
"I am easily angered."
"I have a hard time controlling my words."
"I am consumed by lust."
It's great that we can identify those things. As has been often said, "Knowing is half the battle." But why would we stop at diagnosis? Now that we are clear on the problem, we are better equipped to do what actually needs to be done. That's God's plan in saving you. Romans 8:28 explains that God intends to conform us to the image of Jesus. We who were created to be in the image of God are to always be on a path of making that image more clear. Identifying our sins and struggles is a good first step in that process, but it is only one step. Don't stop there.
Let that first step - diagnosis - lead to many, many more life-giving steps. Scripture doesn't just tell us we have a problem. It also tells us that a deep-hearted grasp of the gospel will help us heal, will help us change. The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). Exactly how the gospel works that change in each of us varies, depending on our need, our problem. But the result is the same: that which we used to be, we no longer are. The diagnosis identified what needed to change. The gospel isn't just about being loved in spite of those things. It is also the good news that those things can be overcome. That the anxious person can learn to rejoice in God's power. The angry person can learn to give and receive grace. The materialistic heart can learn contentment.
So what do a clinic, an auto shop and the Bible have in common? Their job is not done once they find the problem. The real job is fixing it.
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