Well it was always fun to get the kids together and get all five Hutchcrafts jammed into a car for a long trip. And of course immediately we had turf wars in the back seat, especially as the kids bodies got bigger and bigger, and you've got three kids trying to figure out who gets which third or more, is the ideal if you can do it, of that turf in the back seat. Of course that was only one of our problems. After we'd been driving for a little while, well, sometimes I would hear these really gross sounds from the back-seat, and what was happening was this, our poor first born, our daughter was getting sick and her brothers would kind of imitate some of the noises she would make as she was feeling more and more confined in that back seat because if she got the middle and couldn't get neat a window it wasn't good for any of us! Hey, she had a touch of claustrophobia, she needed some space. Well I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Life-Changing Equation For The People You Love."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Timothy 4:2, and Paul talks about different ways we might go about trying to get people to change. He says, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction." Now what he is talking about here is approaching people who need to change. Can you think of anybody like that in your life? Somebody you area married to? One of your children? A friend? Someone at church? "Oh yeah, I know somebody who needs to change." Well, here's how Paul says to go about it. You give them the truth, you encourage, you exhort, you correct, you rebuke when you need to, but then be prepared to wait. He says do it with patience. They're not going to change immediately.
So, the life-changing equation goes something like this: Truth plus Space equals a Change Life. Now, Lisa, in that back seat, needed some space. That might be what that person in your life who needs to change, that's what they need. You've been after them alot but they need some space, and that's the hard part. Yeah, you told them what's right, you told them what the Bible says about it, but now you've got to give them some space to choose it. That person you love, maybe they are suffering from emotional or spiritual claustrophobia, cause you've chased them too much. See if they don't respond right away, we're going, "See they didn't listen!" So we hammer them again and again, and what we're probably doing is making the change take even longer.
Here's another equation: Truth plus Pressure equals Rebellion. See, we're afraid we're losing the person and our fear comes out as nagging and pressure, but here's how the life-changing process works. You give the person the truth on that issue, then give them the dignity of choosing it for themselves. Leave them some room. They're not just going to surrender and say, "I'm wrong, you're right." Back off, and let them decide. You see, maybe you've given them the truth, but not any space, and you're getting rebellion. Remember Paul's words, do it with "great patience."
Here's an even better equation: Truth plus Space plus Prayer equals a Changed Life, because while you're giving them space and while you're waiting to see what they do with the truth, you're on your knees talking to God about them, more than you're talking to them about God.
Maybe you can just say to the Lord, "Lord I've done my best, now You do the rest." I like what Ruth Graham said about Billy Graham, she said, "You know, it's my job to love Billy, it's God's job to change him." Well it's God's job to change that person isn't it. You love them, you tell them the truth, and then leave space for God to do the changing.