Tuesday, January 4, 2022

The Gospel and Your Resolutions

By: Rebekah Hargraves 

Photo Courtesy of Tim Mossholder

"I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." ~Galatians 5:16-18

We are smack dab in the season in which people are focusing on making (and keeping) New Year’s Resolutions. Many of us have spent time thinking through our plans and goals for 2022, drafting up resolutions for how we are going to live better, more productive, more fruitful lives in the new year. But, all the while, we are forgetting one important thing:

Positive change does not come from within ourselves. Nor is it expected to.

As Christians, we should know better than to act as if growth, lasting change, and the refining of our ways is within our own power to bring about. And yet we often act as if this is the case when we follow in the footsteps of the world in this tradition of making “New Year’s Resolutions”. There is nothing wrong, of course, with resolving to make changes and improvements in our lives. In fact, it ought to be our unending goal in life to continually be growing in various areas  day by day, month by month, and year by year. We are shooting ourselves in the foot, however, when we look to ourselves for the power required to make these changes rather than seeking to instead walk by the Spirit, fixing our eyes upon Christ, from whom comes our strength.

Here’s the thing, friends – it’s wonderful to draft resolutions and seek to stick to them. It’s great to want to live 2022 in a more fruitful, productive way than you did 2021. It’s important to redeem the time you have been given. But none of this is going to happen apart from Christ. None of this is going to happen if you keep your eyes fixed primarily on yourself or if you rely on your own strength and the sheer willpower you can muster up. You have to turn to the Lord, from Whom comes your help. Because the truth is that you simply are not enough on your own. This is why we need the gospel! This is why Christ came – to do in us what we could not do for ourselves.

And on those days when you don’t stick to your new resolutions? The gospel presents us with such tremendous grace. The good news tells us that our worth and our acceptance before God is not based on what we do, but on what Christ has already done. Our identity then is safe, for our identity is not in what we do, but in Whose we are. 

So, as you continue the journey through this new year, take joy! Rejoice knowing that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Lift your spirits with the truth that the gospel even applies to your resolutions and your keeping of them – you are both strengthened to endure and showered with grace when you don’t. Because, friends, if you look to the Lord as you prepare for a new year full of new resolutions, you can’t go wrong!

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