“Your name will no longer be Jacob …. From now on you will be called Israel” (Genesis 32:28 NLT).
You don’t have to stay the same! In conversion, we’re given a new identity. Look at Jacob in the book of Genesis. Once Jacob confesses his manipulative behavior, God gives him a new identity.
Notice that three things happen:
God gives Jacob a brand new identity (Genesis 32:28). Essentially, God says, “I know you’ve blown it. I know you’re conniving, but I see in you a prince. Beneath all your emotional hang-ups, all your insecurities, all the stuff you don’t want anybody else to know, I see a prince.” God is saying that today to you: “Beneath all of your sins and hang-ups, I see a princess/prince. You can be something great. You can be what I made you to be.”
God blesses Jacob/Israel (Genesis 32:29). Deep down, we desperately want God’s blessing. If we want God’s blessing, we have to take the steps God requires of us.
God gave Jacob/Israel a limp (Genesis 32:31). Remember, when they wrestled, God dislocated Jacob’s hip. Jacob walked away with a limp, and it served as a daily reminder to depend upon God.
God does his deepest work in your life when he deals with your identity — who you are and the way you see yourself. You will always tend to act according to the way you think about yourself. So God does his deepest changes in your life by changing the way you see yourself.
He says, “Let me show you how I see you.” When you see yourself the way God sees you, it’s going to change your life.
“Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them.” – Matthew 6:20
“You have a pure and enduring inheritance that cannot perish—an inheritance that is presently kept safe in heaven for you.” – 1 Peter 1:4
“But this is precisely what is written: God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9
Controlling Your Reactions
You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control your reaction. God says maturity and responsibility are evident in your life when you can handle the pressures and pains without becoming stressed out or angry and blowing up.
The way we usually express our emotions is through our words. Jesus tells us, “On judgment day, people will have to give an account for every careless word they’ve said.” (Matthew 12:36 GWT)
So if you want to be responsible — God says you need to put your mind in gear before you put your mouth in motion. You need to think before you speak.
But being responsible in your responses means more than what you say. It’s also in your actions.
“Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21 LB)
One of the ways you show responsibility is by not trying to get even with people who hurt you. When you try to get even with someone for what they did to you, you’ve just lowered yourself to their standard. And a person who tries to get even is no better than the person who did the wrong.
But when you forgive that person, that’s returning good for evil. You let God settle the score and He has better resources than you do to do it. That’s controlling your reactions.