What did you resolve to do or to be in 2016? Or perhaps your 2016 resolution was to stop doing or being? Did you keep that resolution? Is your life significantly different as you prepare for a new orbit around the sun?
Did you walk a new walk this year or only talk some talk? We are good at deciding what we must do, but decidedly poor at actually doing it. The Bible puts it this way.
“For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20 ESV)
What resolutions have you begun to formulate in preparation for the new year? Perhaps you have determined to attain a healthy weight and improve your fitness. This is a worthy goal and should be part of every Christian’s obedience to the sixth commandment. But as you are ordering your copy of “Trim Healthy Mama” from Amazon or enrolling into CrossFit 101, do not forget the words of Scripture,
“Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV)
How are you training yourself for godliness?
Perhaps you have determined to increase your wealth and get control of your finances. Indeed, the Westminster Shorter Catechism reminds us that obedience to the eighth commandment requires “the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others.” Yet the catechism also reminds us that “man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.“ To resolve only to increase wealth and get control of finances, but fail to submit all our substance to the Lordship and will of Christ incurs for us the Lord’s warning.
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? (Mark 8:34-37 ESV)
Perhaps you have resolved to reform some bad habits or character flaws – a most worthy resolution! Scripture commands us to “be holy, for I am holy.” Yet without faith in Christ and repentance and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, your resolve will produce only greater turmoil in your life. No man has the power to reform himself. Jesus warns us of the dangers of self-reformation rather than Christ-transformation when he tells of a man with an evil spirit.
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:24-26 ESV)
There is only one resolution that is necessary this year – that is to follow Christ. When Christ called men to Himself his call was always the same, “Follow Me.” Friend, let that be your only resolution this year. And if it is, then all other resolutions will be resolved.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 ESV)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously summed up the call to discipleship when he said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” What have you resolved for 2017? Follow Christ! Let that be it.