Making The Ultimate New Year's Resolution
We are a month into the new year. How are your resolutions going? I had to chuckle to myself the first time I returned to the gym after the holidays and saw it packed with a swarm of new members trying to establish healthy habits for the new year. It’s not their focus on fitness or renewed determination that made me laugh, because I greatly value these things. I believe anyone, anytime, can determine in their mind to change a pattern or cycle and, with God’s help, start in a new direction. What made me laugh was the thought of seeing the gym empty again in March, a cycle I have witnessed now for the last couple of years. It makes me chuckle, but it’s really not funny. Maybe I scoff in order to keep from actually feeling the pain and discouragement of so many people giving up on their passions, dreams, pursuits, ambitions, callings, and goals. It’s actually quite sobering if you stop to think about it.
As a pastor, this hits a nerve, because I regularly witness people giving up on much more than just fitness and weight-loss. I have seen people throw away marriages, families, careers, finances, and faith as they give way to corruption of various kinds. Why can’t we seem to keep commitments? Why can’t we seem to achieve our goals? Why is quitting so easy? Why is it human nature to flake out? Why are people known more for breaking resolutions than keeping them? What does God’s word have to say about all of this?
In Ecclesiastes 5:5 it says “It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.” Many will read this verse and determine not to set goals or aspire to dream in fear of not achieving what they set out to do. But that’s not the intention of the writer here. This passage stands as a reminder that God takes resolutions seriously, and we should too. Rather than shrinking back in fear, invite God into the planning and goal setting. If we bring God into the goal-setting, than God will be in the goal-keeping. The key is not to stop dreaming but simply to dream with God. If you make a resolution under the influence of the Holy Spirit, than you can trust Him help you hold fast to that resolution.
In fact, we know that God actually supports writing down “resolutions” based on this text: “And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who treads it.” (Hab 2:2) I encourage you to take some time and ASK GOD what HIS RESOLUTIONS are for you. What are His resolutions for your spiritual growth? Your marriage? Friendships? Family? Career? Maybe correct some of your resolutions from January with better, God-inspired ones.
So what’s my resolution this year? I want to LOVE like Christ. I know it sounds simple, but hear me out. Listen to these words from Jesus and let them sink in: “This is my commandment, that you love one another in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:12) I must learn to love like Christ. Love is the whole point. Love is the ultimate resolution! For me as a man, talking about making “love” my resolution sounds wimpy. But this is not the case. Love is sacrifice. Love is honor. Love is courageous, bold, brave. I am just now starting to see how manly love is.
I am committed to showing God’s love in a new way this year. Real L.O.V.E. means living for others through vivid expression. This is not an easy call but one worth giving our lives to. This is our resolution. In fact, learning to love is the only thing that really matters in the end. Misty Edwards has a great song that summarizes this exact point, and I encourage you to listen to it as you are making your resolutions for 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HOJb03SQ68
With Valentines Day around the corner, I pray this year will be a year for you to grow in love. Not the fickle, fleeting, hollywood kind of love. But the 1 Cor. 13, selfless kind of love. Love for God. Love for others. Love for His Word. Love for His kingdom. I have faith that 2017 will be a year when love is restored, not just for me, but for my family, my church, and my community. With some serious soul searching, I pray you too can make the ultimate new year's resolution: LOVE.