Mixing New Year’s Resolutions and the Gospel

By January 2, 2013 culture, faith 3 Comments

resoltuionsIt’s Day 2 of 2013.

How are your New Year’s Resolutions holding out?

I’m still shaping mine up, so I’ve not broken them . . . but I know I will. Come December 31, 2013, I will look back and see all the places my hopes and dreams for the new year got derailed. I participate in the resolution ritual anyhow, knowing that if I aim at nothing, I will hit it every time.

As I attempt to walk out my resolutions, I have to be careful. The desire to achieve and conquer my New Year’s Resolutions tempts me to frenzy and fret. (At first, anyhow!) I have to make a conscious effort to temper my frenzy with the truth of the Gospel. God says that in Christ Jesus, I am fully loved in this moment and I won’t be more loved on December 31 even if I kept all my resolutions for the whole year. The Gospel tells me that my performance is not earning my keep. That’s why it’s called Good News—it tells us we get to be still and find rest for our souls.

Sometimes our hearts twist the good news around. We agree it’s good news, but then go on living as if the good news was never given. We return to striving and trying to be something worthy. Here’s how Elyse Fitzpatrick says it in her book Because He Loves Me:

Instead of humbly receiving the gracious love of our Father and depending daily on him, we want to believe that we really can improve ourselves.

That’s what New Year’s Resolutions do to me. They tempt me to believe that I can improve myself. That’s our brokenness out-shouting the good news. And sometimes, we don’t want the good news because we like to fancy ourselves powerful enough to change our spots.

Does this mean I should give up my 2013 goals? No, I don’t think so, for it is within these goals and pursuits that I will learn how to rest in Him to do for me what I will not be able to do on my own. The goals and pursuits are not necessarily wrong—it’s the reason I’m doing them and the power with which I pursue them that matters. Fitzpatrick asserts that transformation (the reason we make resolutions) occurs “while we gaze upon [Jesus], think about him, and muse on him as he has revealed himself to us in the gospel.” So I can make resolutions, but the power to see them come to pass is not in my striving and effort but in Christ who will accomplish all things for me through the power of His love for me.

It’s like I have one goal—to gaze upon, think about, and muse on Jesus—and the other goals will flow out of this one. Come December 31, 2013, I would love to say that God worked the knowledge of His love in me so that my goals and pursuits were worthy of whatever effort I expended throughout the year.

Whatever your resolutions, I do hope you know more of God’s love in 2013.

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