In case you hadn’t already heard, a new year is here. 2018 has arrived! You can officially start using 2018 when you write the date. (How exciting is that!)
I might as well ask the unoriginal and cliché question that you’ve probably heard a thousand times since yesterday: What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2018?
Maybe your goal is to learn how to play chess or brush your teeth twice a day or start eating vegan.
But what I’d rather ask is this question: Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions from last year? What about the year before? What about the past decade of resolutions?
I’d rather not answer that question myself because I don’t have a good answer for you. Last year, one of my goals was to use up one old item from our pantry every week. I may have accomplished that task ten times. Maybe.
There are so many things I could be doing better. New Year’s resolutions can be depressing because they remind us how flawed we are. If I really think about it, I could come up with dozens of ways to be a better Christian. Instead, I try to ignore my flaws and sins but rarely put in the effort to do better.
What sins have you conveniently forgotten about? Have you always struggled with controlling your temper? Eating too much? Clinging too tightly to your dreams? Not evangelizing? Skipping church frequently? Wearing clothes that cause your brothers in Christ to stumble? Talking badly about people behind their backs? Rushing into choices that you always regret later? Looking at porn on the internet?
The list goes on and on. What is the one sin you can’t seem to conquer?
I can’t seem to control my self-centeredness. Every decision I make springs from my desires and my plans. Rarely do I put the desires of others before my own.
But I need to.
If I could offer you one piece of advice during this time of year (which I also need to give myself), it would be this: Pick one verse that will help you keep your resolution in 2018.
And put it everywhere. Set it as the wallpaper on your phone. Tape it to your mirror. Put it in your car. Write it in on the covers of your binders and journals. Stick it to your fridge.
To remind myself to be selfless, I could use Philippians 2:3-4 (NASB), which says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
We can’t remove our sin nature, but we can learn to follow our new nature. That new nature is righteous and kind and compassionate, like Christ. The Holy Spirit wants to shape us to become more like Him.
But we can’t be shaped if we forget who we need to be.
Think about your past resolutions and decide which one has been the most difficult to keep. Then find a verse that will help you remember to do it (or not do it), memorize it, and surround yourself with it.
2018 doesn’t have to be another year of rusty resolutions—if we remember to put on Christ.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:14 ESV)
What resolution seems impossible for you to keep? Do you have a verse in mind that could help you keep it?