It’s January 1, or in other words, resolution time. I know that there are some of you that are anti-resolution people, while others love the challenge of setting new goals. Regardless of where you fall on the resolution scale, I hope you have hope for this new year, and I want to explain why.
I know why we start (and “start” is the key word here) these resolutions and goals. We all feel deficient. We all feel like there’s things that need to improve in our lives. We look back at 2012 (or any year for that matter), see our failures or addictions and say, “this is the year I stop/start ________!”. It’s exciting if you think about it. But something happens usually around the time of President’s Day and most if not all progress we made is gone. I’m not trying to discourage, just pointing out reality for many of us.
Resolutions are the perfect example of righteousness through the law. What I mean by that is that we know none of us can attain to God’s righteousness and goodness by our sheer will and effort (see Romans 3 if you need proof of that). We fail every time. Resolutions or goals for self-improvement can lead to the same discouragement when we try to be really good apart from God’s power and grace. We set our sights high, only to fall short. And God forbid if we actually accomplished our resolutions. We would actually be tempted to fall into a deeper pit of pride and self-glory.
I said I had hope though, and I want to share with you why: because God wants to change you more than you want to change you. And He’ll actually succeed. God has promised to “complete His work in you” (Phil. 1:6) and sanctify us completely through the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:23-24). Sanctify simply means to become more like Jesus in our thoughts and actions. That’s pretty awesome. I have hope this morning, no matter how many of my 2012 goals were successful. God’s resolution to conform you into the image of Jesus doesn’t begin every January 1, but every morning. Take hope in that today.
So how is God changing you? Here are a few ways:
1. He’s putting people in your life that are hard to love. We all love hearing that God is working on us to make us more like Jesus. That’s a warm thought. But when we think about loving people that are hard to love, that’s not so warm and fuzzy. It could be your spouse, a child, a neighbor, or even someone at church. God is putting someone in your life right now that is hard to love because He wants to teach you to love like He loves us (1 John 4:19).
2. He’s taking something away that you love too much. Idolatry is alive and well in 2013. An idol is basically anything that we love more than God. The scary thing is that we can turn anything into an idol. It can be a person or relationship, a career, a hobby, a sports team, money, things, your children, an animal, etc., etc. God is showing you your heart and desires by taking something away that you think you need to be happy. God loves us enough to show us when we love something more than Him.
3. He’s giving you something you cannot handle on your own. Many times our own personal resolutions are geared towards doing something that we’ve never done. It seems exciting at the time to venture into the unknown of running a half-marathon, or losing 15 lbs., or reading through the Bible in a year. God loves to lead us into the unknown as well, but he does it through trials and circumstances that we think are too big for us to go through. Don’t try to escape from those moments. God gives us these trials to make us depend on Him. It’s in those times that we cry out to God more through prayer and go to His Word for comfort and instruction, and that’s very good thing. It’s during those times that our knowledge of and love of God increases dramatically.
This year is going to be a year of change, and it has everything to do with the power and grace and will of our God “working in you both to will and to do His good pleasure”. (Philippians 2:13)