What if someone else made your New Year’s resolutions?
That was the question our pastor posed to us. It got an embarrassed twitter of laughter. Seems we all have something that needs changing, but we don’t want to admit it. Or maybe we do admit it—but we aren’t willing to put out the effort to deal with it. We laugh, but the question obviously hits home.
Our pastor’s question was simply meant to get our attention for the sermon to follow, which was on a somewhat different topic (and one I just happened to address last year). But it got me thinking. What if my husband, or my best friends, or my pastor, made my resolutions? What would they say?
Resolutions I’ve made in the past have all focused on things I’m dissatisfied with. I want to lose weight (always). I want to be in better shape.
But maybe we should think about resolutions that benefit others, not ourselves. If my husband was making my resolutions, he might suggest “resolve to be more positive and less critical.” Ouch, but he’s right. And although he is much too nice to suggest it out loud, he might think that I should resolve to stop complaining when I feel he’s’ not doing his fair share. (Pete is one of the hardest working guys I know, so I truly have no basis for complaint!)
What if God made my resolutions? Have you ever noticed how the Holy Spirit picks one or two things He wants to change in us, then goes to work to change them? Thankfully, He doesn’t try to fix everything at once. He’s gentle. But He’s persistent. It seems I’m always in the school of sanctification!
Have you asked God what He would like you to change?
Once we have our resolutions, we have to go one step further. If it was easy to be positive and stop grumbling, I would have done it years ago. So we need to pray and turn the whole mess over the God. I’ve discovered that He loves my prayers for spiritual growth. He wants me to be more like Jesus.
Just be warned. There’s an old joke about praying for patience, and we want it right now. Just as resolving to be more physically fit means we’re going to have to exercise, praying for spiritual maturity means we’re going to be spiritually exercised. God will give us lots of practice!
If we pray for patience, we’re going to be frustrated more often. If we pray for help to overcome grumbling, things are not going to go our way. If I want to be less critical, there will be plenty of occasions where I’m very tempted to criticize. Life will get harder, not easier.
The good news is that all this exercise will produce results. We’ll reach the end of ourselves and learn to depend on the Holy Spirit. God will work in us. And maybe next January 1, we’ll realize that we don’t need to make the same resolutions over and over again.
We can make new ones!