The new year always brings talk of resolutions – goals, ambitions, things we hope to achieve. My list has been the same for the past 5 years at least – do my QT regularly, read the Bible every day, journal every day (even if just a little), write letters, sleep by 1am/sleep 7h per night, exercise, eat more fruit, etc. You get the idea. Obviously, I haven’t succeeded.
Why do we make these resolutions? I don’t want to suggest that this is the only reason, nor do I mean to say that we shouldn’t make resolutions at all, but I do think that behind many of our self-imposed goals is a belief that achieving them will somehow make us a better person.
That seems noble enough, doesn’t it? Why wouldn’t we want to do all we can to be a better person?
The crucial point is how we go about doing that. According to the ways of this world, we work to earn our keep. You become a better person by doing. You’ve got to try harder, do more. But the Bible says we are to be transformed more and more into God’s likeness. We don’t transform ourselves – rather, by the Spirit, we “are being transformed into His likeness” (2 Cor 3:18). We are to change, to become ‘better,’ but that is not something we can do or cause by our own strength or will. It is done to us, for us, by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross.
We do not grow by doing more, achieving more, trying more. We grow by loving more and learning to live loved. We grow by acknowledging the finished work of the cross, and resting in that, knowing the striving has been done for us, once and for all. It is not that we should have no resolutions to change our ways – we should! We should resolve to eradicate sin and pursue holiness. But our efforts must stem not from a need to prove or justify ourselves, from a sense that we determine our goodness or morality. They must stem instead from the knowledge that we are sinners covered by grace, and that though we continue to sin, His grace is sufficient for us.
But there’s more. So often, my resolutions become my prison sentence. They are cold, hard, absolute, with no room for mercy or grace. Once you’ve failed, you’ve failed, and no amount of effort can erase that. Not so with Christ. Jesus isn’t looking for perfection. We aren’t capable of it on our own. But His grace redeems us, every time we ask for it. At the point of failure, what we are to do, then, is not collapse in hopeless despair, but rather turn to Him, acknowledge our weakness and need, as well as our need for a Saviour.
Do you see? God is not concerned with us “getting it right.” He’s concerned with us getting to Him.
The goal of the Christian life is not to become a better person or the perfect Christian, nor even a ‘good’ Christian. The goal of the Christian life is to get to God. And since there is no way to God except through Jesus, by the help of the Holy Spirit, in getting to God, we bring glory to God.
He is the goal. It is all about Him. He is drawing us to Himself. Above all, we are called to belong to Him. Jesus says to love Him and love one another, “for by this, all men will know that you are My disciples.” It is our love for Him that shows our allegiance to Him – not our disciplined devotions or well-intentioned charity. It is good to make resolutions, but we’re missing the point unless they direct us to God, the Creator of all things, King and Judge of all people, Saviour of the world, Redeemer and Friend.
This year, through prayer and devotion, through time set aside for You, through friendship with others and fellowship with Your church, through healthy living and daily dying, let me get closer and closer to You, Jesus. You have said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” May I always remember that the way to You is You, not my self-betterment or hard work and diligence. Teach me to rest in Your grace that I may draw closer and closer to Thee. Amen.