Week two of 2017. How are you doing on your resolutions?
Jim Gaffigan’s take on resolutions to work out seems to be the norm for most of us on just about any resolution.
I’m one of those people whenever I do work out, I immediately have grand plans. You know: “I’m going to work out every day.” And then the next day I’m like, “Well, not every day. I gotta let my muscles breathe a little. I’ll work out every other day.” And then the next day I’m like, “Nah, I’m happy with the way I look. I don’t want to get caught up in that beauty culture.”
That’s kind of the way I am about resolutions in general, even the ones about overcoming sin and increasing spiritual discipline. “I’m going to read my Bible and pray for an hour every day.” And then the next day, I’m like, “Well, not every day. I’ve got to give my spirit some meditation time. I’ll do that once per week.” And then the next day, I’m like, “Nah, I go to church and pray at meals, I’m good. I don’t want to get caught up in that ‘works salvation’ culture.”
According to the authors of Change Anything:
Ninety-eight percent of us fail at keeping resolutions to change our bad habits.*
Are we doomed to lives without growth and improvement? Of course not. God is on our side. With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). We simply need to turn our resolutions and commitments over to Him.
With that in mind, I’d like to take the next several Mondays to share 8 biblical principles to help us be RESOLVED. What will it look like when we turn our resolutions over to God? Keep coming back to find out.
But before we get into the principles, some caveats.
The nature of the gospel
On the one hand, I’m excited to share these principles. On the other hand, I’m leery. I fear presenting these principles will cause us to misunderstand the gospel. The gospel is not a self-help project, life-enrichment program, or a business-improvement plan. While following these principles will actually help you with everything from losing weight to finding success on the job, that is not what these posts are really about. Jesus did not die on the cross and then burst forth from the grave on the third day to give you a happy marriage and a good job, a thin waist and a fat portfolios, a well-maintained house and a well-manicured lawn. He died to set you free from sin.
However, I know you are interested in that very freedom. I am certain that you, like me, make many resolutions, commitments, and promises tied up in putting off the old man and putting on the new, tied up in putting to death what is earthly in you and bringing to life what is godly, tied up in cutting off sin and growing godly disciplines to build your spiritual core.
An 8-step path to salvation?
Further, what I’m going to share over the next two months is not an 8-step path to salvation.
If you follow the principles I am going to outline, you will become a more disciplined person. Whatever you apply these principles to will improve. You may apply these principles and become more honest, more disciplined, more dependable, less disorganized, less caustic, less stressed, healthier, wealthier, and wise. And yet, for all of that, you can still be lost.
There is only one path to God and salvation, and that is Jesus Christ (cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:12). If you want to end up in heaven, you have to start up in Christ. Please do not think you can get yourself to heaven by applying these 8 principles. Only Jesus can do that.
Whether or not you even believe in God, following these 8 principles will help you improve just about any aspect of your life. My experience has been when you follow God’s principles, you get God’s results, whether you believe in Him or not.
However, wouldn’t it be awful for you to apply God’s principles to certain aspects of your life, improving them, but end up lost eternally anyway? I encourage you to apply God’s soul-saving principles to your life first, then adding His life-improving principles will be doing more than straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.
As Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Let Jesus save you, then improving your life will actually accomplish something valuable.
I’m writing this for me as much as you
I am not asking you to read the 8 principles I’ve nailed and applied accurately to my life so you can be more like me. I need to hear them more than you. I write them as a reminder to me. I share them with you because now that you know I know them, I can’t give you excuses. I am convinced these principles will work. I’ve seen them work when applied. I’m teaching myself. I’m encouraging you. Let’s work them together.
Join me next Monday for Principle #1: Rewrite your motivation.
Links to entire series:
*(Change Anything, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, et al, Grand Central Publishing, New York, 2011, p 26)
Photo adapted from Graceway Media