Well it happened again, another year has slipped by. I think we are all optimistically looking forward to transitioning from 2020 to 2021. And, as we do, we might find ourselves engaging in a popular exercise – the New Year’s Resolution. A dictionary definition of a “New Year’s Resolution” goes something like this,
"A commitment to a project, the reforming of a habit, or a lifestyle change that is advantageous."
I don’t know about you, but that definition has some very difficult words in it, commitment, reforming, and change. It’s no wonder that a common reaction to New Year’s Resolutions goes something like, “Oh, I don’t make resolutions anymore; they never seem to work out anyway.” Yet, we can’t seem to help ourselves when a new year comes around, we find ourselves doing it all over again.
Some recent studies aimed at helping us keep our resolutions have found that we are more likely to succeed if big goals are broken into smaller specific ones. For example, a goal of losing a pound a week is better than saying, "I’m going to lose weight.” When we come to spiritual goals the same is true. Rather than saying, “I’m going to be more Christ-like in my attitudes,” the Apostle Paul says,
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:1-3, NIV)
Two good goals present themselves to us here: 1) set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, and, 2) set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Now considering that we often make unrealistic resolutions to be something that we are not, Paul, with a breath of fresh air, bases these goals on a foundation of who we already are – who we are because of what Christ has done for us. Notice how Paul prefaces the two goals with the statement, "Since then, you have been raised with Christ..." (The New International Version captures the First Class Condition in the Greek NT which assumes the reality of the condition with “since”). This brings a significant change to our thinking about spiritual resolutions and goals, for these goals are built upon something that has already been accomplished for us.
This would be like rewording the common New Year’s Resolution to lose weight to read something like, Since you are already at your ideal weight, keep on eating healthy things. Wow! I like that kind of resolution, and who wouldn’t, it’s a resolution built upon a condition that has already been met! This in fact is the beauty of the Good News of Jesus Christ. By his cross and resurrection, Christ has accomplished for us that which we could not do for ourselves – he has made us into his image by cleansing us of our sins and making us alive for eternity. Based on this, he calls us to keep on living in him.
So, as we greet this new year, and as you think about the challenge of something you want to do for self-improvement, take a moment and thank God for the beauty of the Gospel. In Christ, God is happy with you just as you are in Christ. In him you are perfect. You are forgiven and alive, so keep on living in Him. Happy 2021!