Happy New Year!
I wonder what your resolutions are? No, I’m not talking about all your good intentions (the ones we all wonder why we make in the first place!). I want to know the deeper things, the places you want to go with the Lord, the things you want Him to teach you, the prayer life you want to have, the grace you want to grasp and the humility you want to develop.
These are quite honestly, the hardest things to accomplish—in fact, impossible. But the good news is (the Gospel) you don’t have to develop them. You also don’t get to check them off your “I did it” list, pat yourself on the back or move on to bigger, bolder ambitious things.
Here’s the thing, when it comes to cultivating holiness and God-centered lives, only God can do that. The one who created our physical lives, is the one who began our eternal lives and the only one who can work and harvest any good from our lives.
Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Micah 6:8 tells us that God wants us to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him.
1 Peter 1:6 says, “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.’”
Paul writes to “pray without ceasing”.
If all these things are what God wants for and from us, it follows from Philippians that He is the one to do them. Jesus makes it pretty plain in John 15:5 that we are impotent to improve ourselves: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (emphasis mine)
One of the most succinct passages on this point is Philippians 1:5-6, “…in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
You see, from the very beginning—from the first day you recognized the Gospel until now, the work has been Christ’s. Why do we get confused every New Year’s Day and suddenly think it’s our job to become better Christians, or for that matter, better citizens, husbands, wives, parents or employees?
So, I’ve been pondering God’s to-do list this year. These are the good things He began and promised to complete. I rest in confidence that He will accomplish His will in my life. I am simply being obedient to surrender my heart, life, body and soul to His good purposes.
This concept reminds me of when my father asked five-year-old me to help him work on the car. Of course, I was impotent and maybe more of a nuisance than aid, but nonetheless, he called me to “work” alongside him. In those hours, he accomplished his purposes. I merely sacrificed what else I might be doing to stand beside him—prioritizing his desires for me above all else.
Through prayer, I have come to understand One Word that will focus my attention on God’s work in my life. This year, it is: hungry.
Father, your Word says, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”. It also says that you fill the hungry with good things. You are the one who satisfies the hunger of all living things and all types of hunger. Father, this year, I know you will create and satisfy in me a deeper hunger for your Word, your wisdom, your grace and Christ-like humility and compassion than I have ever known before. Thank you for your good work in my life. Thank you for not leaving me to my own best efforts to please you. In the name of my savior, Jesus, Amen.