Sermon

New Year’s Resolutions

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I usually do not make New Year’s Resolutions. It seemed to me that I would resolve to do good things (lose weight/spend less) only to quickly devolve back into my old habits. But, I discovered that the problem was not with the resolutions, but with my resolve. Marina Milyavskaya, a psychologist at Carleton University, explains the problem with most resolutions: “the most crucial thing to do is pick a goal that you’re truly committed to. Not just something you think you should do, but something you truly want to do.” In other words, while I said I wanted to lose weight, I actually meant that I think I should lose weight. There is a big difference between acknowledging that you should lose weight and resolving to lose weight. If you do not have a plan of action to lose weight, most likely you will not.

New Year’s Resolutions, done correctly, can be a great blessing for a Christian because the goal behind it is self-improvement. Christians can use this time of year to take steps to mature in our faith and grow as disciples of Christ. Maybe you don’t call them “New Year’s Resolutions”, but the dawning of a new year is an ideal time of reflection as you “consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5). Take this opportunity to want to grow in your faith and to persevere in the “good works” (Eph 2:10) God has prepared for us to do. What follows are three New Year’s Resolutions for Christians to consider:

Resolution #1 – I will Love God.

A Pharisee once asked Jesus which commandment in the law is the greatest? Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment” (Matt 22:37-38). Our supreme goal in life should be to love God. You can’t love God unless you know Him. There is a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. J.I. Packer, burdened about this, wrote Knowing God in order to help people realize whether they truly know God or just know about God. Packer speaks of the evidence of those who truly know God:

  1. Those who know God have great energy for God,
  2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God, 
  3. Those who know God show great boldness for God, and
  4. Those who know God have great contentment in God.

Do these four statements describe you? If you only know about God but don’t know Him, these statement might seem strange to you. However, if you truly know God, these statements are your passion in life. You supreme goal in life should be to love God. Does your relationship with God affect your life? If so, grow in your faith. If not, confess this to God and ask Him to open your eyes to see His love for you so that your love for Him would grow. Do you resolve to love and enjoy God?

Resolution #2 – I will Love My Neighbor.

Jesus also told the same Pharisee, “The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:39). It is right and proper to love the Lord, but do you love your neighbor? The Apostle John wrote, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar [because]…the one who loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21). Another man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” (see Luke 10:29-37). Jesus responded with the Parable of the Good Samaritan and then asked the man “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The man replied, “The one who showed mercy to him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.” The purpose of the parable was to show that those who truly love God will also love their neighbor and show mercy on those in need. The man’s lack of love for his neighbor exposed his lack of love for God.

Who is your neighbor? Anyone in need of mercy. If you are married, your primary neighbor is your spouse. How do you treat your spouse? If you have children, your next most important neighbors are your kids. Do you love them and treasure your time spent with them? Do you treat your kids as a blessing or a burden? After your spouse and your children, everyone is your neighbor and is worthy of your love and respect.

Resolution #3 – I Will Follow Jesus.

You think your life is busy, Jesus’ life was busy. Jesus was followed everywhere He went. Jesus would minister all day and we are told that there were nights when He never slept at all. Jesus was so tired one time that He slept on a storm tossed ship. Jesus was busy. While He was busy, godliness was always His top priority in life. This is our aim in life, to be like Jesus and be godly during our business. Christians must pursue God and draw close to Him in the practice of spiritual disciplines. Spiritual Disciplines include (but not limited to):

  1. Bible Intake (Reading, Studying, Meditating on Scripture)
  2. Prayer (Without Ceasing)
  3. Worship (Personal and Public)
  4. Fellowship (With godly people. Connection to a local Church vital)
  5. Service (Showing the love of Christ to a hurting world)

These spiritual disciplines should not be a priority and not considered additional weights on an already overloaded schedule. They should be viewed as the primary way to help sync your busy life with your loving Lord. If you seem to have lost your joy, peace, hope, etc.; “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim 4:7) and you will see the Fruit of the Spirit begin to bloom in your life.