In a recent conversation with an African American leader in the city of Franklin, he made a statement that gripped me: “The biggest failure of the civil rights movement was that legislation was changed while hearts weren’t.” Whoah. He went on to explain himself by saying we can tell a young black girl that she is able to attend a white school. But we cannot force her classmates to love her. We cannot force her teachers to treat her with respect. We cannot guarantee that everyone in the school will see this black girl as a young lady made in the image of God. In other words, what this leader was communicating to me was that laws can adjust things (for the good in many cases). But the law can never transform a heart.
Being that I am currently teaching a course on Galatians, my mind went IMMEDIATELY to Paul and his arguments in his letter. This seems to be Paul’s primary point. God gave the law, but it was never intended to be a means of transformation. The law protects in many instances. The law promotes good in many instances. But following the law can never change a heart. We need God to do that.
I’m not sure what you are striving for today or whose heart you are trying to change. But only God can change lives. If it’s you, let Him. If it’s someone else, let Him. Or maybe you are seeking to change some legislation for the good of society. Go for it. Work hard to make it happen. But while you work, plead with God to change hearts as He reveals His great love.