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The Gospel and New Year's Resolutions

NY Resolution blog

In a recent sermon I suggested a method of making "New Year's Resolutions" (or goals in general) that focuses on responding to objective truths, rather than attaining perceived blessing. In other words, we should make " because" resolutions instead of "so that" resolutions. 

In 2 Thessalonians 1:11, the apostle Paul prays for his readers that God would "make [them] worthy of his calling" and "fulfill every resolve for good." The worthiness in view is not about living in such a way that we deserve or earnGod's blessing; it's about stewarding our lives as an appropriate response to God's blessings that are already ours in Jesus Christ.

I think it's easy for us to recognize a weakness or shortcoming in our lives, imagine the good and desirable results of that weakness being strengthened, and then set goals to help us fix ourselves. That's how we typically approach New Year's resolutions, right?

There's certainly nothing wrong with setting goals, or with pursuing personal growth in godliness and fruitful living. In fact, the life lived without such self-reflection and intentional pursuit of growth will be aimless and powerless. Holiness will not happen by accident. We must actively pursue it. But I want to encourage you to approach your goal-setting and resolution-making in a way that takes into account the grace that's already been given to you through faith in Jesus. In other words, I want you to remember the gospel as you pursue growth and change.

If you're a born-again follower of Jesus, here are some things that are true about you - even if you never successfully achieve another goal in your life:

  • You are loved. (Gal. 2:20)
  • You are accepted. (Rom. 15:7)
  • You are righteous. (2 Cor. 5:21)
  • You are adopted. (John 1:12)
  • You have a home in Heaven. (John 14:2-3)

So even if your New Year's Resolution lies broken and bruised on the ground by February, take a good look at what God says of you. Remind yourself of this list. Delight in these truths, and thank God for making them so through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Remember the gospel. 

Then, set a new goal.