Can you change someone through prayer, good advice, and lots of elbow grease? Find out what doctors Henry Cloud and John Townsend have to say in this devotion from the NIV Life Journey Bible. -Adam Forrest
Influence vs. Control
Moses did what he could, but he did not try to change things outside of his domain. He changed himself by mustering his own courage, appearing before Pharaoh and delivering God’s message. But he could not change Pharaoh’s heart, nor did he try. Yes, he worked to influence Pharaoh, but he did not have the power to make Pharaoh follow his wishes.
Though Pharaoh was clearly in the wrong, it was not Moses’ job to change him. It was his job to deliver the message.
Like Moses, our boundaries help define what we do not have power over: everything outside of them! As the “Serenity Prayer” reminds us [see below the jump], we need the courage to change the things we can and the peace to accept the things we can’t change. In other words, “God, clarify my boundaries!” We can work on submitting ourselves to the process and work with God to change us. We cannot change anything else: not the weather, the past, the economy — and especially not other people.
We cannot change others. We can only give them love, help, truth and consequences and hope that they will choose to use those things.
Moses had no confidence in his own words to change Pharaoh’s mind, but he did give the warning. Then God provided plagues as a sign of his power and protection for Israel. In the same way, God does not judge us when we are at the end of our abilities in a troubled relationship or situation. He just asks us to be faithful, and then, as we ask him to help us, he will provide a new way.
The Serenity Prayer
The “Serenity Prayer” is of uncertain origin, although it has been attributed to various persons, including an eighteenth-century theologian named Friedrich Oetinger and the well-known twentieth-century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. The prayer reads,
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Learn more about The NIV Life Journey Bible: Find the Answers for Your Whole Life
Q: I’m especially struck by these words: “Though Pharaoh was clearly in the wrong, it was not Moses’ job to change him. It was his job to deliver the message.” How about you — In your life, are you expecting yourself to change someone or something — when the best and most faithful thing you can do is simply tell the truth? -AF
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