District Fellowship News

January, February 2005

Happy New Year! It’s resolution time again. Did you make any promises you have no intention of keeping this year. Have you decided that maybe you need to lose a little of that holiday weight gain that appears when our stomachs get bigger because of our eyes. Are you thinking that now would be a good time for a new start? The date has changed so I’ll be better able than I was yesterday to handle that situation, control that habit, change that attitude. Would it be better if we just never made the resolution in the first place and then we wouldn’t have the guilt that comes when we fail to live up to the promise?

Living for God can be seen in the same way. When we accept the salvation that God offers, and make a commitment to turn our lives around (repent), in a sense of the word, we are making a resolution. We say ‘God I will do my best to live your way, not my way. I resolve to change’. But if or when we fail and are not able to live up to that resolution, we have a couple of ways we can respond.

We could just say that making resolutions is stupid. We can’t keep them anyhow. I’m a sinner, God knows it, and he’ll just need to accept me the way I am. If I don’t promise anything, if I don’t commit to anything, I can’t fail Him. So I’ll just live the way I want (that’s the easy way), and God will have to put up with that. Besides if He really loves me, He wouldn’t let me miss out on heaven, so I’ll be fine…

...or, we could say that I’ll make whatever resolution I want, but I certainly will not feel any guilt or conviction if I fail to live up to it. It’s God’s fault if I can’t do it, not mine. Of course this leads to a problem with separation between what we say, and what people can expect us to do. Our word soon means nothing because when no one holds you accountable for the words you say, and lets you excuse your way out of every situation, the distance between your words and your actions grows into a deep chasm. No one can trust you, there is no integrity in your speech, your promises, and your commitments.

When Jesus told the parable of the sons (Matthew 21) , one of whom told his father yes he would go do the work, and then didn’t go, and the other who said he wouldn’t do the work, but then went and did it anyway; he was giving the example of these two positions. I can’t promise you anything because I might not be able to do it, or I’ll promise you anything but I won’t do it. Now obviously in this case the son who said no but went, by his actions, was the better son, but neither position is perfect. We should continue to make the commitment to the Lord, that we will do our best to live our life according to his guidelines. Don’t be afraid to resolve to serve Him, and if you fail and need to make a new resolution, exalt in the fact that God is holding you accountable, an accountability that not only includes justice, but is tempered with love, forgiveness, and genuine concern for your success.

Don’t stop trying because you are afraid of failure, or are outraged you may feel conviction. Of course as far as your New Year’s resolutions go; giving up the cigarettes, committing to lose weight, eat healthier, or just setting some limits on some bad habits, you don’t need to make those at any special time of the year. If it’s right on January 1st, it probably was right in July as well. Don’t wait until next January to commit yourself to following God with all your heart, mind, and soul, take that step today.

Lord, we resolve to do our best to live our lives for you, to fight the fight, to keep the faith. Help us by the power of your Spirit to be more like you.