Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12: 1-3 (New International Version)
Every New Year, it is customary in our culture to make a resolution as January approaches. Some make commitments to lose weight, to work harder, to spend more time with family or to find a hobby. The list is endless and there seems to be no invalid sort of resolution out there that I have heard of. It seems that, apart from the usual types of resolutions, even the obscure or just plain ridiculous count. All you have to do is scan across your preferred social media platform over the final week of December to see examples of resolutions for the new year. Of course, many are made just for fun and are never intended to be kept, while others are intended in good will, but never persevered.
This last reality is something I think is innate in a culture of complacency and self-gratification. For some reason, we place before ourselves challenges that often go unmet because our wilfulness is lacking. Change is uncomfortable, after all. But some of us laugh off our failures in keeping resolutions (the serious ones), stating we made too big a deal out of them, at the time of making them, in the first place. Until the next year, then we’re back to making the same resolutions again.
Most of the time, I understand, the same cycle just continues.
Then, of course, there are the times when resolutions are kept the year long and continued for a second year. Perhaps another resolution is added to the existing one. These are great moments-especially the ones that promote healthy lifestyles or are profitable in a way. I think celebration is in order when people are able to commit to things and see them through. They set an excellent example to the rest of us what perseverance can do.
Along with all the good things that can be resolved as the calendar rolls to a new year, is the significant resolution we Christ followers can make when entering the New Year. We have an opportunity to look back on the following year to reflect on the part we played in advancing the Kingdom of God, either (and especially) in our local church, community or elsewhere.
This requires us to ask ourselves some important questions of our effectiveness as disciple makers. Some examples might be: How did I bring honour to God in the public square? Have I proclaimed His Lordship by word and deed to those who don’t know Him? When and where did I live out the Great Commission in the last year? Additionally, we should be looking back on our own personal progress becoming more like Jesus by asking questions like: Have I, firstly, asked the Lord to reveal sins I need to surrender to Him and, secondly, have I been listening for and accepting the Lord’s response? What part of my nature has changed to reflect more of the character of Christ in the last year? How much daily time have I taken to meditate on God’s Word?
It may be better to ask a trusted Christian friend these questions about ourselves. His or her answer ought to give us a real reflection of our Christian effectiveness over the past year. It will be exhilarating if even one answer we receive is positive, for it is a great testimony of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. On the other hand, it should result as sobering and humbling if the answers are negative. Either way, we should be motivated to take the words of Hebrews 12 to heart.
The words of the epistle can be our renewed resolution come January 1st every year. Within these short verses, I think, act as a mandate in actuality for anyone who identifies as a Christian. So, yes, a resolution, but much more: an instruction to be honest with ourselves about where we stand with God this moment (either for the positive or negative), to humble ourselves by turning from those things that separate us from the righteousness of God, and to make steps toward the goal that God has set for us.
It’s a resolution for all time, because it’s a resolution for each year, month, week, day and hour.
Though some New Year’s resolutions are looked at casually, we cannot resolve ourselves in the same way, because if we fail at persevering toward godliness it is no laughing matter (though in our immaturity we may excuse ourselves). Also, we do not resolve for ourselves or by ourselves. We resolve together as the Body of Christ, for ourselves, for each other and ultimately for the Lord. This means that we give each other permission to call out the progress we are making toward the goal, and the stumbles too.
It is a resolution for all time, because it spans for eternity, as we learn and grow to reflect more and more of Christ’s character for the duration of our knowing Him.It is such an awesome commitment to make and if we all took the time everyday to reflect in the matter suggested come January every New Year we would have so many positive answers to our reflective questions that we could potentially fill a whole side or two of a legal pad.
I want to resolve this way every year. Apart from any new exercise, trend, hobby, etc. that might strike my fancy in 2017, 18, 19 and beyond, my number 1 priority should always be the resolution to strive to be more like Jesus every new day of the current year.
How about you?