New Year’s Resolutions
I am writing about this simply because this is the time of the year that most of us begin the slide to abandoning our New Year’s resolutions. I decided that this year I wanted to make a few resolutions that were different than the typical “lose (insert your number here) pounds” or “workout five days a week” resolutions that we so frequently give up on by Valentine’s Day. After thinking and praying quite a bit, I came up with three that I genuinely want to attain and that I think are going to be easier to work toward.
- To love people more deeply – In his commentary on Galatians, Jerome relates a story of when John the Evangelist was extremely old and had to be carried into church in order to teach. John repeatedly said nothing but, “Little Children, love one another.” Jerome goes on to say that John’s disciples became annoyed at the constant repetition and asked why John always taught the same thing. He replied, “Because it is the Lord’s commandment, and if it alone is kept, it is enough.” And it is true that Jesus did tell us that we were to love one another. “And this is my commandment, that you would love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12, ESV). And we are not just to love those who agree with us either! Jesus also commanded us to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Lk 6:27-28, NIV). I want to learn how to do this better.
- To demonstrate God’s forgiveness and mercy to everyone, especially those on the margins of society – This actually flows out of the one above and from Matthew where he states, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (5:7, ESV). However, this resolution originated while I was reading my Facebook pages. I saw how little mercy and forgiveness was being offered to those who disagreed with whatever point(s) that groups were making, and I felt an overwhelming sorrow. Most of the negative reactions come, I think, from people assuming the worst about each other. This runs counter to Paul’s definition of love in 1 Cor 13. To quote Blackaby, “Love has no limits. Love never says, ‘You’ve gone too far. I can’t love you now.’ . . . Love assumes the best about others.”1 Showing mercy and forgiveness is a tangible demonstration of that love.
- To keep deepening my relationship with God – This is the key to the other two. I am sure that all of us, if we honestly think about it, have relationships that have changed how we look at the world and act in the world. If you want to be like somebody, you need to hang around that person and develop a deeper relationship with them. Our relationship with God is no different. In fact, I would argue that spending more time with Him may be the only way that I will grow in my first two resolutions, and the only way you can, too.
These are not “typical” resolutions. On one level, I think these will be easier to pursue, and on another, they will be harder to practice. I do not believe that I will “fulfill” any of these completely this year but if I can make progress, I will count it as a successful year.