At this time of year it is customary for people to make resolutions. I don’t think there is anything wrong with making resolutions, but I think a lot of resolutions focus on the wrong thing. When we make resolutions it tends to be about exercising more, eating healthier or spending less. None of those are bad pursuits. But the problem with resolutions is they are based solely on our own efforts. They are dependent on our own willpower and determination to succeed. And when we inevitably fail and slip back into the old ways we are left feeling guilty and hopeless.
There is no special power in midnight at the start of a new year. The clock striking 12 changes nothing. You don’t suddenly gain the willpower to resist chocolate just by starting a new calendar. But there is power available to us through the Holy Spirit.
You see, when we do our resolutions right, we don’t have to do it alone. When we make God-honouring resolutions they aren’t just dependent on our own willpower. We have the help of the Holy Spirit. And when we fail He is there to pick us up again and set us on our way.
As this is a traditional time for making resolutions it is a good time to do a spiritual stock-take of your life, and use this time to prayerfully consider what you need to work on in the year ahead in order to grow more and more into the likeness of Jesus. So what is a good resolution for us to make? Paul gives us a great example in Ephesians 4 – “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3 NIV.
What a difference it would make to our lives if we made this year a year when we resolved to live a life worthy of the calling we have received. It will have a much more eternally significant impact than a resolution to eat healthier that gets abandoned the first time we pass a McDonalds. Living a life worthy of the calling we have received goes beyond any mere New Years Resolution – this would change everything.
The calling we have received is to be sons and daughters of the King of Kings. That is what Paul urges us to live worthily of. Once we grasp that that is our calling, our identity, then that will resonate through into every decision we make. So the first thing we must strive to do this year is to remember our identity. We also need to remember we have been bought at a high price. Jesus gave up His life on the cross so that we could receive this calling. We must honour the price He paid and not treat it lightly or casually. This requires us to give our all, holding nothing back. We can’t nominally follow Jesus. Living a life worthy of our calling requires being whole-hearted with total surrender to Him. Maybe in recent years you have gone to church on a Sunday, and looked at your Bible now and again in between. As we resolve to live a life worthy of the calling we have received it is time for us to get serious and get deep, no messing around in the shallow end. We need to carve out intentional daily time with God, seeking to grow closer to Him and to get to know Him better.
When we resolve to live out a life worthy of the calling we have received it impacts how we interact with those around us, as we remember that they are people made in God’s image. Paul teaches us that we will be humble and gentle with them, patient and bearing with one another. Paul reminds us to strive for unity and peace, through the help of the Holy Spirit. See here’s the thing. Often New Years resolutions focus on ourselves, but resolving to live a life worthy of the calling we have received will impact everyone we come into contact with.
For each of us the specifics will look different, but for each of us there will be areas of our life where we can ask the Holy Spirit for help in the year ahead to enable us to do more to live a life worthy of the calling we have received. God never desires for us to remain static, He always longs for us to lean in, to press forward and draw closer to Him. This side of heaven we all have work to do to continue being transformed into the image of God. Resolve that this year is a year when you take your faith seriously and don’t just go in cruise control. Resolve to live worthily of your calling this year!