Every year, on 1st January, I set myself some resolutions. Sometimes they’re specific: lose a stone. Sometimes they’re more general: be less selfish. Always, always, though, the resolutions are not kept. Or, at least, not kept consistently. Today I determined that I would write something creative, not for work, every day. And also that I would write a novel this year. But then I remembered that I have made these resolutions before. Yes, I have probably written something creative most days, and yes I have written novels before (terrible ones – as a teenager), but they’re never the product of anything forced. They usually just happen. Of course, if you want to BE a writer, and be paid for it, as I am blessed enough to be able to do at the moment (in a roundabout sort of way, that involves a lot of answering telephones, addressing envelopes, and general admin, too!), you cannot rely on creativity just happening.
So, what is the answer? Force myself to write something every day in the hopes that a best-selling novel comes out of it? Make myself write even when I don’t want to, because it’s good discipline? Maybe, but I’m not sure it would make me terribly happy. And what about other resolutions? I know that I need to be less selfish. I need value comfort less. I certainly need to lose some weight. I need to eat healthier. I need to take my spiritual life more seriously. I need to read my Bible more and trashy novels less. I could resolve to do all of these things, and more. But does it matter? Well, yes it does matter. It is good for us to take care of ourselves, both spiritually and physically. We should strive to live good lives. We should strive, in fact, to live a perfect life. But we can’t do it. Anybody who has ever made a New Year’s resolution will know how easy it is to fall short of our own standards, let alone God’s perfect standards.
But God doesn’t expect us to. Jesus died on the cross as a substitute for our sins. He died for our sins so that we don’t have to. If we accept this, when our Heavenly Father looks on us he will see Jesus’ perfection, not our sins, and so whenever we fall short, we can be forgiven. This isn’t a light thing; it is impossible to forgive our sin without death–in fact, our sin was so big that God had to become a human himself and die for our sin. But, he did it. And because of this amazing grace we are forgiven and can live freely.
So, instead of making fifty resolutions this year. each day I will strive to live by God’s grace. John Piper, a pastor and preacher I greatly admire, says that he gets saved every day. So, all I will do this year is to daily accept Christ as my saviour and strive to live for him. Anything else I do does not matter. Whatever else comes out of 2013 will be a bonus.