For those of us who have made resolutions for the year 2014, how are we progressing? Although it has only been five days, are we congratulating ourselves as we put ticks on our list? Or has it been more of a situation of “one step forward and two steps back”? Regardless of whatever our current status may be, let us continue “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2). Furthermore, the Bible teaches us that our desire to please God and to have a change in our lives is the result of us being a new creation, through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, if not for God’s grace of giving us the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and transforming us, we would have remained self-sufficient, choosing to be apart from God. Even our resolutions would likely be self-centred and for the interest of self.
But as God’s children who “no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor 5:15), we can take heart that God’s grace is sufficient in seeing us through our commitments made unto Him. We know that those changes will take place because God is present and active even in the mundane moments of our lives. Moreover, just as few addicts actually quit because of a single moment of resolve and few relationships become stronger because of one dramatic moment of commitment, we also do not rest our hopes on some big and dramatic moments or experiences.
Instead, as a Christian counsellor and pastor Paul Tripp so aptly puts it, “the character of a life is not set in two or three dramatic moments, but in 10,000 little moments. The character that was formed in those little moments is what shapes how you respond to the big moments of life.” In other words, we need to understand that what leads to significant personal change is that God is at work in the midst of those thousands of seemingly unremarkable moments of our lives as we seek to obey and follow him.
Whether we are getting ready for a new school term or adjusting to life as a retiree, in-between jobs or shuttling our loved ones to the doctors, God is intimately involved in our lives and molding our character through those moments. Often, there will be occasions when we find ourselves stretched beyond our strength and abilities only to discover that as we run to God for help and wisdom, God is using these moments to mold us into Christlikeness. Likewise, there will be instances of failure, disobedience and sin but when we turn to God in confession and repentance, we will find that God never tires of lavishing his grace unto us.
Admittedly, our resolutions can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Instead of helping us in our personal growth, it may turn out to be an idol where we look for meaning and joy. There are some who willingly give of themselves to exercise, stick to a diet, strive for better grades or embark on some self-improvement courses, mistaken that they will have a happier and more fulfilling life when they achieve their goals. Although many of those resolutions may arise out of good desires, they must not be ultimate. After all, they are not meant to be gods.
As we enter into 2014, it is important that we prayerfully consider what or more specifically, who we are living for. More often not, it will mean that we need to leave some baggage behind as we take up the cross and follow Jesus. And thanks be to God, our Heavenly Father knows what we need (Matt 6:32). We can rest assured that the year 2014 will continue to be a year of God’s matchless grace for all who are in Christ – regardless of whether we kept our resolutions or not.
January 5, 2014