Every year as the end of December approaches, many women (like myself) begin to go into a tailspin. We are flooded with people resolving to drop ten pounds, read the Bible in a year, be more intentional in their marriages, or keeping a more simplified schedule. These are all good things!
Christ wants us to be good stewards of what God has given us and He desires for us to bring Him glory with these gifts (Colossians 3:23-24). However, we can stumble in these goals when we attempt to accomplish them in our own strength and for our own glory. We place our value in a checklist and our identity in the successful completion of that checklist.
And if we fail in our goals, we can be filled with bitterness and frustration. How can we combat these tendencies in our lives? And how then should we approach making these resolutions in light of the Gospel?
A Work Completed
In the Old Testament, God proclaimed His word to His people through the prophets and others, like Abraham, Moses, and David. All of these people were set apart and chosen by God, but they paled in comparison to the One of Whom all the prophecies foretold – Jesus Christ.
The author of Hebrews acknowledged this as he wrote to the early Christians, encouraging them to trust in the saving work of Christ and to rest in His work for them on the cross:
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making the purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV)
Jesus is our Sovereign Creator and Good Sustainer. Nothing, not even our own hearts, can be torn from His hand. This should bring rejoicing to our hearts!
If we trust in Christ as our Lord, He promises that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). He is sanctifying our hearts through hardships and trials to transform us into the image of Jesus. We can be assured that our hope is secure in the finished work of Christ. But what does this have to do with New Year’s resolutions?
A Work Being Completed
Usually, by the beginning of February, most of us have fallen off the goal and resolution train. We have failed at our diets, slacked off on our exercise schedules, and chosen selfishness rather than servanthood in our marriages.
We decided to rely on our own strength, which resulted in disappointment or failure. And so often, we forget that our hope is not in an accomplished goal or a fulfilled resolution: it is in the finished work of Jesus. In verse 3, the author of Hebrews declares that, after Christ died for the purification of our sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Christ’s work for His children was complete.
We are now able to rest in what He has done on our behalf to reconcile us back to the Father. No longer do we have to strive to obtain our own salvation (which we could never do, regardless). No longer do we have to look to the world for approval or validation — we have the blessing of being adopted into the family of God by saving faith in Christ. Our identity is now rooted in being God’s child.
In a 1996 sermon, John Piper said, “By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. In dying for us, Christ covered our sin so completely that it can be said that we are perfected before God. That is, in Christ we are forgiven of all our sins and to use Paul’s language, acquitted and reckoned righteous. And not for just a while, but for all time.”
So friends, don’t be discouraged when your goals aren’t accomplished in the way you set out for them to be. Don’t look at your goals as if they will bring you the satisfaction and completion you seek. If we are trusting in Christ, throwing off sin, pursing righteousness, and seeking to bring Him glory, 2019 will be a year of growth and renewal.
It will be a year of no longer relying on our own selfish, sinful strength but a year of trusting in the perfect, complete and redeeming work of our Lord. It will be a year where, even if your own efforts in resolutions fail, Christ will complete His good work in you!