Resolution Revolution First Things First By Isabella Yosuico For many of us, the New Year heralds the arrival of a time-worn and often weary tradition of making RESOLUTIONS (said with dread :-). No matter how many years they’ve failed me or I them, I sure do still like those lists, neatly printed, in categories even. Better still if I can check So if the Son sets you free, them off as they year ticks by. Makes me feel good about myself. More often than not though, it you will be free indeed. almost seems as though making the resolution leads me away from where I want to be. That’s John 8:36 because, as Paul tells us in Romans 7, the law (or rules or goals or whatever…the law in its many disguises) actually excite sin—a subject we’ll explore further later. As Christians, we are no longer under the law (Galatians 3:25). The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 Alas! I revisited last year’s list and notice that of the dozen or so items on it, I’ve successfully attained only three. Bummer. I guess I won’t be able to be smug this year and celebrate my self-discipline. Yet, I don’t need to sit around self-flagellating either. I can simply rest in Christ’s completed work and his ultimate check mark. The complete and absolute approval Christ gained for us on the cross, which I receive freely by accepting him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 I know that I’ve exhausted myself and others, and often still do, trying to change the assorted things I find troublesome or to attain goals of my own design. As exhausting as the effort to change myself, is the Recommended Reading considerable emotional energy I expend fretting about how I fail to meet my own The Bible in its entirety speaks volumes or others’ expectations…including God’s. This practice extends far beyond New on the subject of Grace and Christ’s Year’s; it becomes a lifestyle of endless checklists. My performance dictates completed work…and there are many, whether I feel good (and even better than others) or bad (or worse than others). many teachers and preachers who speak to this topic. Soak it up. Oftentimes, I go from feeling elated or proud to condemned and critical several It will change your life. times a day. Christ died so I could be liberated from this cycle of insanity (Luke 4: Bible Books: 18, Romans 8:1)! Galatians | Romans | Philippians I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Select Teachers & Preachers: Google to Christ died for no purpose. find books, podcasts, websites and more. Galatians 2:21 Steve Brown Matt Chandler Why do we fail to see that our ongoing efforts to “improve” ourselves and others, Larry Crabb Bob George often breeding self-righteousness, judgment and condemnation, as any different at Tim Keller Elyse Fitzpatrick Tullian Tchividjian all than say, the law-keeping Pharisees that made Jesus (and later Paul) so angry? The answer lies in our very sin nature, our deep desire to control outcomes, to plot ourselves on some hierarchy of “righteousness,” to depend on something, anything, other than grace, for our value. Some of us, including me, bristle at the idea that I can never do anything to be more loved, favored or accepted by God (Phil 3). And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 Today, I say hurray that we’re off the hook for changing ourselves or manufacturing and attaining goals that are often of our own misguided making (Prov 16:9). The Biblical Fruit is of the Spirit, not of the Isabella or the Jane or the Pam. As I grow in him, he will change me and surely direct my paths (Pro 3:6). Am I now advocating for doing away with spiritual disciplines, abandoning goals, or giving myself over to my sinful desires? Let me simply quote Paul in saying emphatically, “No!” (Ro 6:1) We can guard against having them become an enemy of what we’re trying to achieve (Matt 23:37), by drawing closer to Christ, focusing on Him rather than an outcome. We can be sure He will continue to grow us in the Spirit, loving us and accepting us all along the way. By drawing close to Christ and marinating in His loving acceptance, godly goals and the ability to attain them come organically, day to day, little by little. Prayer: Jesus, please make the truth of The Gospel, the very good news, fresh to me today and every day.
A liberating alternative to the never-ending check list.