New Year, Unchanging God
Anew beginning is on the horizon! A fresh start. The old year is gone and we have rung in the new. In the past, I have dabbled in making New Year’s resolutions. Here are just a few:
- Losing weight (let us just leave that little bit there)
- Spending five hours a day in the Word (by interrupting sleep to get up at a ridiculous time in the morning)
- A whole lot more uninterrupted prayer times (with a toddler running around the house)
- Spending less money (with no actual plan of how to do that)
Resolutions I can confidently say were successful? Zero. Although the intentions behind them were good, my approach to goal setting is obviously flawed. I am not alone as the average success rate with New Year’s resolutions is less than ten percent.
So why is making resolutions a thing? After much asking and a little googling, I concluded it pretty much comes down to one basic concept – a new year, a new start, a blank slate to make promises so that we can somehow guarantee this will be our best year yet. Making a change on January 1 provides a nice timeline to start something new as we examine the past and look towards the future.
However, when considering resolutions there is a cautionary tidbit. Holding tightly to self-driven resolutions can easily and quickly take us down the road of legalism. This is not saying resolutions are inappropriate or wrong – setting goals can be constructive for progress and maturity. However, we must guard against the making of resolutions as a substitute for our reliance on the Lord.
As believers, we do not need to create a resolution and hold tight to a January 1 start for a new Bible study or praying with our children. Each day we are given by God is an opportunity to proclaim our reliance on Him in spite of the cultural mindset to rely on oneself. If we are followers of Christ, we can love each other well and seek God’s grace for reconciliation every day even when we failed to do so the day before.
Our hope rests in the unchanging God who says January 1 comes every day.
Lamentations3:21 – 23 says; “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 says; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Psalm 37:23-24 says; “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
Our hope and salvation will never come in the form of New Year’s resolutions. Even keeping resolutions will not truly be satisfying because we are limited in our capability to change our sinful selves. If we place our faith in self-driven resolutions for behavioral change, we revert back to living in a place of bondage instead of living out our freedom through Christ.
Jesus did what we cannot do. He lived a life of perfection in order to die by the punishment we deserve for our sin (Romans 6:23). He then defeated death through His resurrection whereby in Him we are able to claim His righteousness, no longer separated from God (Romans 6:8-10). God’s grace does not merely soothe the wounds of our bondage to sin. He destroys the chains of bondage while healing and restoring what once was – not our old self, but instead the creation formed in His likeness before sin wrecked mankind. Seeking to better ourselves is a good and mature resolution only when we seek the One who has the true ability to change the core of our soul.
2 Corinthians 3:16 says; “But whenever a person turns [in repentance and faith] to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” The veil mentioned in this passage is the inability to understand truth. Even with the veil removed, we may not fully understand the depravity of our hearts and all the necessary changes needed to make us look more like Christ. God does. When we depend on works to change our hearts, we rely on our own limited humanity over the God who has no limitations.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 says; “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Did you catch that? Our freedom is found in the transformation that comes from the Lord! Whether or not we make it to December 31stwith an accomplished resolution, the Lord is not bound by the constraints of our resolutions. Friends, the Lord continues to conform us to the likeness of Christ because it is Him who is active within us.
Ultimately, because of who God is, we are loved and accepted. We are being sanctified by the transforming glory of the One who saves us. No New Year’s resolution success or failure will forfeit that truth.
Romans 8: 1-2 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set youfreein Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” When we place ourselves at the foot of the cross, we find freedom and grace to be the person God wants us to become- not by our attempts to better ourselves through self-driven resolutions, but by the power and love of Christ.