In twenty days we will turn the page on 2013 to 2014. You know what that means, don’t you? New Year’s Resolutions!
Typically resolutions go like this. “In 2014 I resolve to….. go on a diet. Exercise three times a week. Pay off my credit cards. Text less. Read the Bible daily. Pray daily. Be a better Christian.
So how did that approach work for you this year? How many resolutions survived the first month? Or the first week?
Writer and preacher, Leonard Sweet makes some pertinent observations about the challenge of many of our resolutions as we quickly approach 2014.
“Most ‘resolutions’ we make are self-directed: get thinner, work smarter, be stronger, take control of your life. We want to make changes that will help us, improve us, and bring us good feelings about ourselves.”
“Jesus said to be “in” the world but not to be “of” the world. So let’s start with being “in” a world that begins each year making resolutions: let’s make a New Year’s Resolution. But what if we weren’t “of” this world of resolutions we’re “in”? Instead of resolutions to live…. in a way that makes us feel good about ourselves, that brings ourselves pleasure, what if we resolve to live a life that brings pleasure to God.”
“What if we were to forget the little resolutions and resolve something big (did you catch it? another in-not-of alteration since the world is filled with lots of resolutions but little resolve)? What if we were to resolve to so live in (2014) that in January of (2015) God can look back at our year of living and declare – ‘Your life brings me great pleasure. Well-done, good and faithful friend.’”
Give God pleasure? Is Leonard Sweet right? Is that Biblical? Listen to the Psalmist.
“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.” (Ps 147:1)
“Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” (Ps 35:27)
“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people.” (Ps 149:4)
Maybe one way to understand this is to remember how much we enjoyed the approval of our parents when we were children. Their smile. A pat on the back. A hug. The words, “I’m so proud of you.” It made us feel good. Accepted. Secure. And loved.
Our Heavenly Father desires to find pleasure in our lives. He created us in His image. His likeness. We have a mind to think. Emotions to feel. A will to decide. We’re not puppets controlled by a manipulating Deity. God gives us the ability to choose to serve Him. Worship Him. Obey Him. If we really care about pleasing Him, it will bring us a great sense of satisfaction, knowing that we are living a life pleasing God. And it will give God pleasure in His people!
Now, for the record. I’m not against personal self improvement. Or even making resolutions that challenge us to change. Grow. Or Become better. But maybe the best resolution I can make for 2014 is a simple one: “I Resolve to be more like Jesus.” In attitude. In attributes. In actions. That will please God, bring pleasure to Him, and provide me the ultimate contentment.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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