It’s the end of day #1 of my “year of thirty 30’s” and so far, so good. But that’s the way it usually goes with new year’s resolutions right? It usually goes great for a week or maybe even a month – but then, well, we’ve all known the disappointment that comes from a failed resolution. And so then comes the question – why make a new year’s resolution at all?
Well, my answer yesterday was “for the glory of God and the joy of the world.” And that answer still stands, but I want to show briefly what the foundation for my crazy ambitious, convoluted resolution is. It is the gospel.
The gospel is the foundation for all right resolutions actually.
Only when we are making a resolution out of a position of being reconciled to God by Christ can we truly make a right resolution. Without that reconciliation, nothing we do will be ultimately right or pleasing to God (Heb 11:6).
But it goes further, because a right resolution in your life must be one that comes from a heart of faith in the gospel. We must believe that God has proven himself trustworthy in the gospel, and all of our resolutions for bringing him glory must come from a heart that is trusting him and his ways as the most right, most good and most joyful.
Bringing glory to God and helping others do the same are the only right actions in the universe, so all of our resolutions must have this as their aim, and they must have the gospel as their foundation; because in the gospel, we are trusting in all that God promises to be for us in Christ – and that includes God being a loving Father and guide through this life and through all of the “self-improvement” projects that we will ever undertake.
So, the gospel is the foundation for all right resolutions both because only through the reconciliation of the gospel can we do anything right, and also because only in the gospel is God a loving father and trustworthy guide for right living and proper “self-improvement.”
But, I want to also tell you that the gospel is not just the foundation for all right resolutions, but that it is an EMPOWERING foundation for all right resolutions.
- The gospel tells me that there is no condemnation for failed resolutions, for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)
- The gospel tells me that both my resolutions, and their completion, are a product of God’s gracious work in me (2 Thess 1:11-12) – so I don’t have to put myself under a burden of law to complete them.
- The gospel tells me that my worth and value are found in my being “in Christ”, and so I don’t have to define myself by how well or how poorly I do in completing my resolutions.
- Because of 1-3, the gospel then frees me to make radical resolutions – for example:
- The gospel frees me to strive for incredible achievements because failure doesn’t bring condemnation or alienation, and success doesn’t bring pride (because it’s God at work within me).
- The gospel frees me to give sacrificially because I’m promised that God will always care for me. I don’t have to hoard my money, time, energy, talents, or anything else. I am free to give and give and give of myself to God’s glory and other’s joy.
- The gospel also frees me to resolve to enjoy more of God’s good gifts without abusing them. In Christ, I am promised fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore, and so although God has given all his creation for our enjoyment, we don’t have to over-glory in any of it, because we have the fountain of all glory promised to us in the gospel.
- Finally, the gospel frees me to live without fear, no matter how incredible the (God-glorifying) risk might be. Becoming a missionary to a country that’s hostile to christianity? Open-air preaching in a seedy part of town? Adopting a high-risk child? Jesus died to remove the sting of death and the evil of afflictions, so we don’t have to fear any resolve for radical, God-glorifying, risk taking…because God will always care for us, and will always work all things for our good, and even if we die, we lose nothing – indeed, dying is gain!
So, the gospel is the only right foundation for right resolutions, and not only is it the right foundation, but it is a greatly empowering foundation!
Make incredible resolutions this year, take incredible risks, make sacrifices, give of yourself for the glory of God and the joy of the world!