This is the time of the year when people make resolutions, go on diets, lose weight, eat healthier, spend less money, etc. According to Forbes magazine, 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent keep those resolutions.
So should we just give up?
No, because there is a place for change in our lives. However, I’m not so sure New Year’s resolutions are the best way to accomplish this.
A follower of Jesus should always be “taking stock” and wanting to get stronger. Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the LORD” (NLT), and 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us,
“Check up on yourselves. Are you really Christians? Do you pass the test? . . . Or are you just pretending to be Christians when actually you aren’t at all?” (TLB).
Instead of merely focusing on weight loss and exercise (there is a place for that), let’s focus primarily on our relationship with God in this coming year.
Is it really possible to change—to be a “new you” this year?
The answer is yes, people can change.
But there is God’s part and there is your part. People seem to swing to one of two extremes on this topic. Either it’s all about human effort and what we must do for God (illustrated in the cliché “God helps those who help themselves!”) or it is no effort at all on our part and God will just somehow do it for us (illustrated in the cliché, “Let go and let God!”).
Neither one of those views, in and of itself, is true.
Scripture teaches that if we want to change, there is our part and there is God’s part. A classic verse that pulls those together in found in Philippians 2:13–14, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
The idea of “working out one’s salvation” is referring to living out one’s faith—carrying it out correctly.
The verb “work out” carries the meaning of “work to full completion.” There is work involved in living the Christian life, as well as warfare and discipline.
These are not words we necessarily want to hear, but if you want to get in good shape, you “work out,” not “sit out.” The Christian life is not an easy one.
It is not a playground, but a battleground.
When the California Gold Rush began, gold was plentiful. You would find it in the streams on the ground.
Word quickly spread and people streamed into our state by the thousands. They all thought that gold was theirs for the taking and they would become instant millionaires. Of course, that gold quickly disappeared. But there was plenty more, deep in the mines.
As Christians, there is so much God has done for and in us. But we have to mine it—discover it. “Working out what God worked in.”