I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. Part of me loves them – the fresh starts, clean slates, new horizons…all that good stuff. It’s refreshing and inspiring. The other part of me – the pessimistic, angry part – hates them. They remind me of the pile of books on my nightstand, still unread from 2012 much less 2013. They remind me of the 20 pounds I gained rather than the 10 I said I would lose. (Full disclosure: I’m literally eating a Reese’s Pieces as I type this.) Fine. Whatever. I came up short and I probably will next year too. But the ‘do your best,’ ‘dive on in,’ ‘keep on truckin’ and ‘chase every rainbow’ articles have already been written a thousand times and apparently hasn’t helped much.
There are really two sure-fire ways to ruin 2014. One is to drown in your failures and let the setbacks and mistakes dominate your identity. The good news that you’re an orphan who got welcomed into the family of God can be just a tired, Christian cliché if you want, but it’s true whether you use it or not, so we might as well own it and press into this new creature-ness that Paul writes about. Christ came for the quitters, the chubby underachievers, the procrastinators. So go ahead hit the gym – yes. Make your book list – amen. But when you come up short, remember the Gospel. We’re saved because of what Jesus accomplished, not what we did.
The other way to make a mess of 2014 is to fulfill your resolutions, achieve your wildest dreams, and then make the unbiblical assumption that now you have arrived. The truth is that even the noblest resolutions are at best temporary and at worst vain. In the same way that allowing your failures to define who you are contradicts what the Almighty has already declared you to be, allowing your successes to define you does the exact same thing. Don’t let good things, admirable things, awesome things produce a pride that says my worth is based on what I have done. God opposes people like this. A wise man once said, “No one is too bad for Jesus. A lot of people think they are too good for Jesus.”
So friends, in 2014, may you lose weight and save money, may you quit smoking and start jogging; but regardless, may 2014 be the year that Jesus completely overwhelms you with the news that He loves you regardless of your response.