Equipping Your Reimagine Journey
“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year, and out the other.” (Anonymous)
Now that ten days of 2016 have come and gone, how’re you doing with your resolutions?
We all have good intentions. However, we learn by experience the futility of human resolve. Resolutions are promises we make to ourselves, sometimes lightheartedly described as “made to be broken.”
January is the new year’s genesis—viewed by many as an opportunity to start over with new habits. Sadly, the new year is frequently just a new start on old habits.
New Year’s resolutions are a kind of confession—an admission we haven’t been the kind of people we want to be; an acknowledgement we are not as slender, cheerful, thankful and productive as we would like to be. In making resolutions, we confess our humanness and commit to doing better.
Typical resolutions are not spiritually motivated or empowered. They are merely signs that we want to do our best to turn our lives around.
When the days and weeks speed by, ordinary life resumes—and old habits reassert themselves. When January 2017 rolls around, many will make the same resolutions anew with lots of hope, but with no greater chance for success.
If we’re ever going to change, we must rely on more than our weak human resolve—we must have the empowering work of the Holy Spirit. Here’s why—
1) Sin is a powerful magnet that continually draws us toward it. Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” contains a phrase indicating he knows there’s something within us that keeps us from sticking to our conviction. His prayer captures the problem perfectly—“Take away our bent to sinning.”
2) Human resolve is weak and frequently in need of resuscitation. Repentance is more than an annual need; it is a daily need. Every day we need to crucify sin, bury our ego, and be resurrected to new life.
3) Our resolve to turn around will not do it alone. For one thing, we keep putting off change until tomorrow. Gloria Pitzer wrote, “Procrastination is my sin, It brings me pain and sorrow. I know that I should stop it, In fact I will—tomorrow.”
4) Human resolve to do good is often captive to evil. In our heart there’s a war raging between the dark side and the light side, a struggle between our human nature and God’s holy standard (Romans 7:15-24).
5) We need grace, not law. We will not find new life on the lightning-scarred slopes of Mt. Sinai, but only on the blood-soaked slopes of Skull Hill. The gift of the Holy Spirit is not for sale, and cannot be bought. It is showered on us as a free, undeserved present. It is as hard to get as it is to get wet in the rain.
In my next blog, I’ll discuss some spiritual resolutions worth making, and where we can find the means to keep them.
“I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NLT)
Johnny R. Almond
Interim Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church; Fredericksburg, Virginia