As I get to the beginning of a new year and read the world’s lists of resolutions, I can’t help but feel like a bit of a loser: I just don’t seem to care. I have no interest in trying harder in 2015. I have no desire to write out a list of what I want to do better this year.
Sure, I think it would be great if this was the year that I got in shape, or if I made it past the book of Numbers in my Bible reading plan. But I highly doubt that writing these things down on a list—once again—will get me any further than it has in previous years.
What do you think? Am I a loser because I lack motivation to better myself? Is my negativity bringing you down? Shouldn’t I have a little bit more hope in myself to affect change?
Honestly, in all of my list making experience I’ve never seen much change via the try harder, do better method. Oh sure, some effort-based change can last for a while. I can force myself to hit the gym for the first few weeks in January only to end up back on the couch come February. I can force myself to say “no” to sugar and caffeine for a few weeks, only to find myself in the Starbucks drive-thru line, desperate, shouting at the speaker, “I need a ventifrappesugarbomb, ASAP!” after I’ve been up all night with a sick kid. I can set my alarm for 5:00 AM to get up and pray, only to sleep through it the very next day because my insomnia gets the best of me. The (brief) moments of change are only skin deep. Whether it’s feeling as if I’ve failed or feeling proud and self-righteous because I’ve succeeded, my heart remains unchanged.
But, even in the face of being negative toward change, I do have hope. I have hope because I know that I will be changed this year. I know that I will continue to grow and be sanctified daily because that is what He has promised me. Even in the years I’ve completely given up on life, He was faithful to change me.
I don’t need another list of things to do. There is a list that’s already been written. It has spelled out every good and perfect thing that I must do to be acceptable. It’s like a New Year’s Resolution List on steroids. I look at it and I’m crushed: Love your neighbor, do not be jealous, and love God with all your heart, and on and on. I can’t even begin to do these things “sort-of”, let alone do them well. I’ve failed before I’ve even started.
There is One and only One who has kept the list of perfection. Jesus never had to make a single New Year’s resolution. He never had to try harder to be a better person; to sin less and love more. And at the cross He chose to take my identity as one who can never get it right no matter how many years I put it on a list, and, in exchange, He gave me His identity of the perfect list keeper.
I don’t have to make a try-harder, do-better list. I don’t have to look inward and find the courage to love myself more. I don’t have to put post-it notes around the house reminding myself of the promises I have made to be a better person. I have Christ who has set me free from the need of constant self-improvement. It is Christ who will work in me to complete a good work this year.
And if I don’t get any better in my habits this year, He will love me the same as He did yesterday, today, and forever. My list has been completed. He has torn it up, thrown it in the fire, and dared me to be free.
We can all rest knowing that we don’t have to resolve our way into God’s favor in 2015 because we cannot gain or lose ground with God. Failures, successes, whatever comes our way, we will remain in His love and His face will never turn away from us. We are his beloved now and forever.