It certainly didn’t take me very long this year. It is not even New Year’s yet and I have already broken a resolution! This year I had resolved to NOT make any resolutions. The typical, “lose weight, be a better housekeeper, get up earlier for a more productive day, etc.” have gotten kind of old and tired, so I decided why even bother this year? That is, until my nine-year-old taught me a very valuable lesson. I went into Re’Elle’s room to put away her laundry the other day, & happened to notice a list on her bed. On one side was a list of Christ-like attributes she feels she is doing pretty well at. On the other side was a much longer list of the attributes she feels she needs to work on. What a lesson for me! I realized that over the years I have gotten so busy trying to be “good” and do “good” that I have forgotten to continually strive for “better.”
Acts 11:23 reads, “When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.” Many times, without even realizing we are doing so, we get into the mindset that we will become strong, faithful Christians by accident. This verse tells us plainly that we must have PURPOSE, or resolution, behind our faith. As with anything, we must have a plan. Over the next several articles, we will look at what a plan for resolutions that matter consists of.
The first thing we must have on our list of resolutions that matter is expectation. Psychologists have been saying for years that children rise—or fall—to expectations set for them by their parents. This fact also holds true for the Lord’s children. So often I hear people say, “Oh, I just can’t do that.” Or, “That’s just not my talent.” Well, “can’t” never could. Christ gave his entire life for us! He hung on a cruel, excruciating cross for us! He was mocked, beaten, and spit upon! Shame on us for being unwilling to serve our Lord in every way possible!
It takes all types of service for the Gospel to be furthered in this world. Pam Stewart’s book, “Evangelistic Women” does a fantastic job of outlining ministries for women in the church today. And while, admittedly, we all have our strong suits and things we are better at, more comfortable with, and things that come more naturally to us than others, I submit to you that if there is something we are unwilling to even try in our service to the Lord, our priorities are wrong! 2 Corinthians 8:10-12 is a wonderful example of this. It reads, “And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”
Where did this work begin? With desire, with purpose, and they were able to fulfill it. So often we forget that God is the power behind what we do. We often quote Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” But do we really believe it? Do we act on this Scripture? Do we attempt personal Bible studies that are scary and intimidating to us, knowing that it is Christ’s strength we lean upon? Do we lead prayers in ladies’ class, knowing that our love for the Lord will cover the quiver in our voice? Do we talk to friends, neighbors, and our cashier at Wal-Mart about the hope that is within us, fearing not those who can destroy the body but the one who will destroy the soul in torment? (Matthew 10:28)
If we expect this of ourselves, we will do it! Think about the effect the church would have in this world if every single Christian expected this not only of themselves, but also of those around them! Recently I have seen evidence in my own life that our expectations determine our actions. My precious sister was dating a non-Christian, and several months ago, praise God, he was baptized into the Lord’s church. For those of you who do not know, I come from a line of preachers. This means that public service to the Lord is automatically expected of the men in our family. The church in Lone Grove, OK where my sister & her (now) husband worship also have this expectation of their men. However, my sister’s poor husband is a quiet man who works at a tire plant. Nevertheless, in his few short months as a Christian, my brother-in-law has already begun publicly leading the church in prayer, waiting on the Lord’s table, and has even lead singing (which he readily admits is not a talent of his).
Why was he able to do these things that stretched his comfort level so far as a babe in Christ? Because he expected it of himself, and because he knew that others expected it of him. When he put on his Lord in baptism, he resolved within himself to serve his Savior in every way possible.
As we begin this new year, let us make resolutions, but let us make the resolutions that matter. Let us resolve, let us purpose, to show the world that we are a stronger Christian with a stronger faith on December 31, 2011 than we will be on January 1, 2011. Let us make purposeful, intentional, expectations of ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ. May we not let fear, intimidation, or our own discomfort stand in the way of letting Philippians 4:13 be evidenced in our lives every day! May God bless you and your service to him throughout this new year!