For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, December 31, 2012

To Resolve, or Not To Resolve

December 31.  End of a another year.  Time for everyone to be all pensive and introspective about the previous year and optimistic and resolute about the coming year.  Honestly, since the whole thing only lasts a day or two, I'm not sure what the big deal is, but...anyway. 

There are two lines of thought about the whole resolution thing.  Well, there are probably more than two, but it's easier to say two because then I only have to deal with two. (Sorry, feeling a little ADHD this morning)

I thought about writing a nice post about how we can make a biblical argument both for and against resolutions, but I've recently read a couple really good articles on each so I thought I'd just do the responsible blogger thing and capitalize on someone else's work (Apparently, I'm also feeling a bit cynical this morning).

First, I read this great little piece from Paul David Tripp where he argues that God-made change in our lives isn't about one or two dramatic moments, like making resolutions, but is instead about 10,000 little things in the course of our lives.  He says in part: 

You see, the character of a life is not set in two or three dramatic moments, but in 10,000 little moments. The character that was formed in those little moments is what shapes how you respond to the big moments of life.
What leads to significant personal change?
  • 10,000 moments of personal insight and conviction
  • 10,000 moments of humble submission
  • 10,000 moments of foolishness exposed and wisdom gained
  • 10,000 moments of sin confessed and sin forsaken
  • 10,000 moments of courageous faith
  • 10,000 choice points of obedience
  • 10,000 times of forsaking the kingdom of self and running toward the kingdom of God
  • 10,000 moments where we abandon worship of the creation and give ourselves to worship of the Creator.
And what makes all of this possible? Relentless, transforming, little-moment grace. You see, Jesus is Emmanuel not just because he came to earth, but because he makes you the place where he dwells. This means he is present and active in all the mundane moments of your daily life.

Then there is this post from Tony Reinke where he argues that resolutions have a good biblical basis.  He points to 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 and then says:

From this text, here are a few bulleted points to meditatively ponder:
  • By his power (δύναμις) God is eager to fulfill (πληρόω) the totality (πᾶς) of our faith-filled resolutions (εὐδοκία). Which means …
  • God cares about our resolutions, all of them — and he sets no limit to their number.
  • Our resolutions are legit only because God, by his power, is resolute on our eternal good in all things (Romans 8:28).
  • True godly resolutions focus outward: on God, on Christ, on divine glory, and on the good of others (2 Thessalonians 1:3–4, 11–12).
  • Shortsighted resolutions, resolutions with me as their end, are powerless and destined to fail.
  • True resolutions should fit within the context of our eschatological hope (2 Thessalonians 1:5–10).
  • True resolutions should fit within the reality of our union with Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:12).
  • True godly resolutions — “works of faith” — focus on God’s enabling power, thus they seek for what only God can provide.
 So, do we resolve or not?  Are we to make resolutions because they focus on God and His enabling power, or do we not make resolutions and instead look for those 10,000 little things God is doing on a daily basis?  Well, I'll just take the easy way out and say: it's both. 

Evaluation, which is at the heart of year end resolution things, is a good thing.  We ought to always be looking at our lives, our discipleship, our service, and making sound biblical judgements about them.  As a result, I think we always ought to have some clear Christ-centered goals in mind; and we ought to strive for them.  

Yet, at the same time, we should know that these resolutions are not magic pills.  Our lives don't suddenly change over night because we wrote down a really fun goal on New Year's Day.  It really is about the daily walk with Christ, the 10,000 little things each and every day.  We can and should set goals, and then we should settle in for the daily grind of moving toward those goals, knowing that the whole thing is a process; just as God's work of sanctifiying us is a process.  

The confidence we have is this:  "that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)  I pray that God does much in you life this year (and mine!) and that when the end of 2013 comes we can honestly say that we have become more like Christ over the course of the last 365 days.  After all, that's the one goal that really counts.  

And now to get you in the resolving mood, here's the O. C. Supertones and their classic on the subject, aptly titled "Resolution."  Enjoy, and Happy New Year, Everyone!

No comments: