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 Thessalonians 1:11
Usually, I have jumped on the criticizing-new-year’s-resolutions bandwagon. Why wait for January? Why spend only a few weeks or days per year thinking about how to better ourselves? Why bother with an annual, short-lived spurt of energy that often hardly makes a dent into our habits, much less changes anything significant in our hearts?
Maybe it’s because this was the first time I was away from home during the holiday season, but this past year has persuaded to value tradition more. We really are creatures of habits and patterns. God designed us that way. He told Israel to set aside every seventh day, celebrate annual holy days, rest the land every seventh year, and restart the economy every fiftieth year. These patterns gave structure to their calendar. Israel needed that.
We need it too. When done well, I think our cultural tradition of self-reflection and resolution around the start of every new year can be extremely useful. The truth is that we often need external reminders, such as the calendar and tradition, to remind us to “examine ourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5) and “resolve not to sin” (Psalm 17:3). Wishing to become better purely through spontaneous personal drive is a nice idea, but doesn’t line up with human nature.
So, over Christmas break, I spent a lot of time thinking about the new year and how I can resolve to live it well. Specifically, I wanted to enter 2013 with a Christlike perspective on serving La Fe, the village-community within La Ceiba, Honduras where I work. I knew I wanted to understand the concepts behind my goals, which give them their purpose, according to what God has said. I also knew I wanted to “count others as more significant than myself” (Philippians 2:3). The following is what came out of that. Hopefully it will give you some ideas about living with purpose this year, however you feel about “new year’s resolutions.”
(1) GOD’S WILL FOR PEOPLE:
- That they put their FAITH in Jesus Christ for salvation.
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29
- That they REPENT of all their former works (those of which they were ashamed and those in which they took pride), the futility of their former thinking, the falsehoods they had believed about God, and the patterns of sin in their lives.
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Isaiah 1:16-17
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:8
- That they be BAPTIZED.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27
- That they become increasingly LIKE CHRIST through the means of grace.
By this we know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in [Christ] ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:5-6
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42
- That they fulfill their HUMANITY and express the KINGDOM of God in their relationships to creation, others, themselves, and God by practicing justice, mercy, peace (shalom), and love.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (NIV)
Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14
(2) What God has given me that I can share with people in La Fe, to live out his will in my life and to help them live it out too:
- Prayer – for them, with them
- Friendship – greeting, touching, listening, assisting
- God’s Word – sharing, explaining, applying
- An example to follow
What do you think?
In what other ways would you summarize “God’s will for people,” if that’s the question you think we should ask?
In what ways do want to see God’s will fulfilled in your life more this year than last year?
What has God given you to share with the people around you?