I hate New Year’s Resolutions. We put all this stock in the changing of a number, make a bunch of sweeping, life-altering declarations, and then we bail on them before February. But, as much as I hate the idea behind them, a new year does seem pretty special. It is, mentally, a little like a reset button. The important thing is not to forget that every moment of your life can be like a reset button. Broke your resolution? Get back at it. With that in mind, for the next few weeks, we’re going to take a look at what I think would be the best resolutions for Christians (including myself) to make for 2018.
Resolution #1: Read the Bible more…and do what it says
Reading the Bible is easy. I love to read. Doing what it says is much harder. It’s easy to disconnect your faith from your everyday life. It’s easy to give God little bits and pieces of your life when it’s comfortable or convenient. It’s much more difficult to give God all your life. It’s much more difficult to allow God’s word to permeate every part of your life. We tend to make fun of pastors that we claim are “cutting and pasting” the Bible to only talk about parts they like, but many times we do the same thing. Here are a few that are easy to notice:
Ephesians 4:29: We love to ignore this. Things that we say aren’t always encouraging. Things that we say aren’t always good and helpful. But we tend to justify our words. “They deserved it.” “I am just telling the truth.” “I’m just done being politically correct.” We speak angrily, we speak hatefully, and we speak unhelpfully. Let’s stop ignoring this verse.
Matthew 5:38-40: We love revenge. We enjoy a good “vigilante justice” story. But how many of us have ever given freely to someone who is taking from us? Remember in “Les Miserables” when Valjean stole from the bishop? When caught by the authorities, the bishop not only claims that Valjean was given the silver, but tells him he forgot some and gives him more! Justice is important. Consequences are important. But justice doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive to generosity and forgiveness. Let’s not justify our revenge and call it justice.
James 1:2-3: Spoiled children are interesting. In “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Harry’s cousin Dudley receives an astounding 36 gifts for his birthday. Instead of being happy, he complains that last year he received 37. It’s easy to be annoyed at Dudley and his parents. But to a spoiled child, they really do feel as if they are being punished and persecuted when they receive less. Christians in the US are a little spoiled in comparison to other countries. Therefore, we tend to complain about little things that we view as attacks on us. Why not stop and remember this passage? We can consider troubles as things to rejoice about! Troubles bring us growth in Christ, and nothing is better.
These are just examples, but I hope you can see that they are indicative of a larger problem. We far too often simply ignore sections of the Bible that are difficult to follow. This makes it really difficult to reach others with the good news of Jesus. So, in 2018, let’s do a better job of reading the Bible and doing what it says!