“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power” (2 Thess. 1:11, ESV).
Today we are one week into 2018. January is a wonderful time for calibrating our hearts and properly launching into the year to come. For those who drew up New Year’s resolutions for themselves, the rubber has already met the road. If you haven’t done so yet, it’s not too late!
I saw some debate on Facebook about the legitimacy of these resolutions. On the one side, I heard opinions downplaying their effectiveness. On the other, I read testimonials of significant, vital transformation friends experienced after setting these kinds of goals.
How does God’s Word inform this discussion? In my previous post on the subject, we talked about the impossibility of effecting any real, lasting change in ourselves, by our own human efforts. Today, I’d like to examine another angle of the matter.
Look at the above verse. The Bible does actually have something to say about making resolutions. The language here is “resolve for good.” Have you set your resolve towards some positive objective for 2018? In God’s heart, there is indeed a place for these well-intentioned plans. He truly does want our hearts to be propelled forward by a motivation for good.
How, then, do we make sure that our resolutions are the right ones? I want to suggest three guidelines:
- Be Spirit-led. (Rom. 8:14). Before you land on any particular goal, ask God what is on His mind for your life in 2018. Ask, and you will receive! Once He shows you what He has written down in His book for this year, you will find great blessing and favor in pursuing exactly that.
- Request a heart examination. (Ps. 139:23-24). As you are dialoguing with the Lord about possible areas of target and focus for the year, invite Him to search your heart. Ask Him to inspect your underlying motives. For example, if you are hoping to lose weight, He will graciously reveal to you what your intentions are. Way down deep inside, do you want to rock those outfits better than anyone else at work? Or are you longing to truly to honor Him with the proper care of His temple, your body? You want to make sure that the correct fire of passion is kindled in your soul’s boiler room.
- Check your power source. Look at our verse for today again. How is our every resolve for good going to be fulfilled? Does it say, “by self-command, self-restraint, and self-mastery”? Nope. “By the sheer force of your will power”? Nope. “By trying really hard?” Nope. Here it is: “By His power” You will grow into enduring change in 2018 by His power, and by His power alone.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12b-13, ESV). Through this verse, the Lord invites us into a partnership with Him. Our part is to “work out” spiritually: to pursue Him with all that we’ve got.
However, all the while that we are thus engaging with Him in this partnership, He wants us to understand that He is the one working deep in the core of us to bring about change. He is the one producing both the right desires and the right behaviors in our lives. While He wants us intently pointing our hearts in His direction, He is the power source for our transformation, and for every resolve for good. He will fulfill each and every one.
So yes, allow Him to lead you into some strategic focus points for 2018. And all along the way, lean heavily into His power. Goal-reaching success will come as you rely completely on Him.