This sermon is eternal, I thought, doodling on the back of the bulletin. Why does the pastor have so many bullet points today?
I stared at the adorable baby in front of me, the handsome guy on the other side of the church, and the elderly couple beside me. Anything and everything invited me to become distracted,. I actually welcomed those distractions because I didn’t want to hear the next sentence out of the pastor’s mouth:
“So how can we apply this message to our lives today?”
No! I shouted inwardly. I don’t want to hear any application steps or practical tips. I just want to hear interesting stories, facts, and verses.
However, without more warning, the pastor began a list of five ways we could put his message into practice. I wrote them all down, acting like I would (of course) implement them in my own life. But I knew I wouldn’t. I probably would never even look at them again.
Honestly, I don’t just fail miserably at putting Sunday sermons into practice; I do this throughout the week with other things as well. I read blog posts, magazine articles, and Bible verses that are amazingly convicting and practical. I think, Wow! I need to do this! And then, seconds later, I forget what I read and don’t even try to remember.
There are so many things I need to do that I’m not doing. I need to do more, try harder, be better…but I’m not.
That is why I hate New Year’s resolutions.
Attempting to Fail?
If I set New Year’s resolutions for 2019, I’ll set myself up to fail. I can’t and won’t live up to my standards—or even God’s standards. It’s overwhelming to me. As soon as I look away from my list of resolutions—or maybe even while I’m still writing them—I’ll fail.
It’s not that I don’t feel convicted. I do. A lot.
My problem is that I feel so convicted but so unmotivated. I’m not compassionate, kind, or patient. Instead, I’m dishonest, rude, and envious. I don’t evangelize or give to the poor; instead, I hide inside my comfort bubble and act like it’s no big deal. I’m a self-centered, prideful, and hypocritical idol worshipper. I chase my dreams—not His. I build my kingdom—not His. I look for my glory—not His.
How can I ever meet my New Year’s resolutions to do more, try harder, and be better?
Truth is, I can’t.
I will never be enough. Never. There isn’t even an ounce of enough-ness in my whole body.
But God knows that.
He’s Not Surprised
God knows your past, present, and future failures. He recognizes that you won’t meet your New Year’s resolutions. He understands that you won’t follow the bullet points from sermons, tips from blog posts, or even His words in Scripture. He knows. He recognizes. He understands.
But He loves.
O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. (Psalm 69:5, 16 ESV)
Our sinfulness is impossible to measure, but Jesus doesn’t need to measure it. Instead, He paid for it. He died for it with His own life.
The Best New Year’s Resolution
I’m not saying it’s a good idea to sleep during sermons, stop reading Christian articles, or distract yourself during your Bible reading. I am saying that implementing everything you hear or read is impossible. You can’t make yourself a good person by following your New Year’s resolutions, your sermon notes, or your convictions.
Jesus makes you a good person.
Let’s stop throwing ourselves a pity party about everything we’re doing wrong and start celebrating the One who did everything right. Of course, we need to confess our sins and repent from them. Of course, we need to be reading the Word, attending church, and heeding godly advice. Of course, we should seek the Lord in 2019.
But even if we don’t follow any of our New Year’s resolutions in 2019, we are still loved by God. His love toward us is not based on how “good” we are because we have no goodness in us (Romans 3:10-18). Rather, His love is based on His goodness.
This post has no step-by-step guidelines for the upcoming year. It has no numerical list of tips or suggestions. I simply want to say that the best New Year’s resolution we can make is to remember how sinful we are and how gracious God is. Let that fact resonate within your heart this year.
Have a happy New Year!