Wednesday, December 24, 2003

New Year Resolution

Can you believe it's already a new year? The start of a new year always prompts me to "clean house". Don't you love "New Year's Resolutions"? I think the only reason they exist is to teach me how really little self-control I possess. I remember what last year's resolutions were... They're the same as this year's, only with 12 months more guilt tacked on them. These are my standards; study the bible more, pray more, yell at my kids less, more diligence in quiet time, exercise more, less television, better husband, EAT LESS. If I knew these last year (and most years previous) why am I still struggling with them? Paul knew this frustration. He writes in Romans 7:18,19, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing."

We are all performance driven to a great degree. If you'll notice the adverbs I used in my resolutions; MORE, LESS, BETTER.... they have no measurement, no goal, they just simply reflect the fact that I'm not meeting MY expectations in that area. What that means is that we will never achieve a level that will satisfy us. I will never be perfectly content with my prayer life, my bible study habits, or my girlish figure.

So, what do we do? Should I just altogether abandon trying to do better? 2 Corinthians 5:17 says "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" Part of the package when we accept Christ and receive the Holy Spirit is that we have become a "New Year". Just like we can't go relive 2003 nor can we reverse any of the events that occurred last year, our old nature is gone. Our sinful nature has been buried and the old ways no longer bind us. We have been made NEW.

Why does that sound inconsistent with what I just said about never being good enough to meet my expectations? Because I haven't learned to view myself through the eyes of the one who's judgment counts. Just a few verses after Paul confesses his frustrations he resolves the issue for himself. He writes in Romans 8:1,2, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Jesus isn't condemning you. He isn't even disappointed in you. He knows who you are, where you are, and what you're doing. He is calling you to a holy life, but that is one step at a time, and he has the time (and patience) to lead you there.

That brings up one last point! All of the verses I have shown reflect one thing, that our relationship with Jesus is the only way we have freedom over the old nature. According to Matthew 9:17 "Men don't pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." What does that mean? It means that all of the changes (new wine) in the world is pointless if it is poured into an old wineskin. The old wineskin represents the person that has not received Christ as their Lord and allowed the Holy Spirit to regenerate their spirit. All change is in vain without Jesus, for you will never earn His approval or acceptance. It is given freely because He loves you without reserve. He made a resolution at the cross on your behalf and he has never wavered.

This is the heart of my New Year's Resolution this year, "Let me know Jesus more and serve Him with diligence and enthusiasm."

Have a great year in Jesus.