This year I will run a half-marathon. This year I will eat healthier. This year I will read the Bible twice. This year I will find financially stable and healthy practices of spending. This year I will write a letter to relatives I don’t live near at least once a month. This year I will become a solid basketball player.
These are just some of the resolutions I’ve made in the past at the start of a new year. As of the most recent years, they’ve become more and more spiritually focused. I’ll be acutely aware of my failings in certain aspects of my walk with Christ and I’ll make bold declarations of commitment to different spiritual disciplines. I’m going to read the Bible multiple times in a year, or memorize a lot of Scripture, or pray this much each day or wake up super early to spend tons of time in my room with the Lord. All of these aren’t inherently bad things, but they never last a month, much less a week. More often than not it’s because I’m trying to change my life in my own strength. More often than not it’s because I want to reverse or change something I don’t like about my past year and I think if I just try harder and be more committed that good will come of it.
Is this inherently wrong?
Does it produce greater godliness in my life?
So this year I don’t want to make any promises to the Lord and myself that I can’t keep. This year I don’t want to make any resolutions that shift all glory for the completion of such a resolution on my shoulders. I want to fall more in love with the Lord this year and let that be what drives me to greater obedience and commitment to the Lord.
2016 has had some huge highs and deep lows. I graduated college, started my first job in vocational Christian ministry, and fell in love with a wonderful godly woman named Jamie. Yet I wrestled with fear and doubt when life was hard. I had my first holiday season away from home. My grandfather passed away. Familial difficulties arose. My car broke down shortly after moving out to Phoenix. Yet one consistent aspect of my life has been God’s faithfulness to me. In the middle of me questioning His goodness, in the middle of me doubting His care, He was faithful and constant in His care and provision for me. That makes me desire a deeper commitment to Him. But that won’t come through me simply resolving to be better in discipline.
Let’s say I committed to reading the Bible through this year. I could successfully do that and still miss out on growing in my relationship with Him if it became simply a checklist requirement for the day. I don’t want that. I would much rather resolve to do that which deepens my love for Him. Daily Bible reading is certainly an avenue for that, but that won’t come from obligatory self-condemnation when I miss a day. It is a subtle and insidious lie that can so easily happen. I can resolve to better walk in spiritual disciplines and make the glory go to me.
Here’s the bottom line. The Christian life, the church, our faith are not about us, they’re about him – his plan, his kingdom, his glory. – Paul David Tripp
Peter was a flop of a disciple at times. That’s why he’s my favorite, he’s relateable to my sometimes inconsistent heart. One minute he was proclaiming that he loved Jesus more than anything and the next he was denying that he even knew Him. If anyone felt the pressure to resolve to be a better follower of Christ, I bet it was him. Yet after Christ’s resurrection, Jesus wasn’t concerned with Peter’s desire to commit to be better. He was concerned with Peter’s love for Him.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” – John 21:15
Jesus did implore Peter to do the work of Christ in the world by shepherding and caring for the people of God. But this was preceded by the question of whether or not Peter loved Him.
If your resolve to obey God last year did not help you to be faithful, it will not make you successful this year. Jesus asks for your love. If you truly love Him, your service for Him in the new year will be of the quality that He desires. – Henry Blackaby
I resolved to be as perfect as I could last year in faith and trust. Yet I came up short many a time. I’ve learned that not only is there grace for that, but that God is first calling me into a loving relationship with Him, and that out of this love I will grow in myself a desire to walk out His ways in the world this coming year.
So as we launch into 2017, fall more in love with Jesus. Jesus knows that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments out of that love for Him.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. – John 14:15
That’s my hope and prayer for this upcoming year. I want to fall more in love with Christ. I want to trust Him in the chaos. I want to believe Him in the midst of doubt. I want to worship Him in light of all that He is and all that He’s done. There’s a lot of uncertainty ahead but I know that my God is faithful.
I want to fall more in love with Jesus.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll eat some more vegetables along the way.
In His Name,
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