Happy New Year, right? We have a whole new year ahead of us, maybe we’ll get it right this time. Probably not. The problem for us humans is that our resolve is not enough. “New Years resolutions” are fine but ultimately self-defeating for at least three reasons. First, our focus becomes our failing. For example, if I resolve to not watch TV, I am thinking about “not watching TV” all the time until suddenly, somehow, it just comes on. Second, to break an old habit we need to acquire a new habit. My old habit of eating ice cream before I go to bed can be broken if it is replaced by something else, like eating chips instead. Thirdly, our “old nature” is essentially selfish and this selfishness is a force that is “strong with this one.” Paul laments, “I do not do what I want but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). Most of my various resolutions have to do with self-improvement schemes which fray and fade with time.
Resolutions that “work” would come in the form of prayer that He might help us in our weakness, that all we seek to do and to become be about the glory of God. Yes, we can do all things, but only through Him who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). It begins with the offering up of the “self” to God, that is denying self and taking up the cross of Christ (Luke 9:23).
With that in mind, let us revisit the “Five Step Program” I mentioned at the close of the service on Dec. 16. Make these, not your resolutions, but your prayer.
“Our Father, who is in heaven…grant me strength to take up your cross as I…
…seek out anyone I have offended, and seek clarification, understanding, and where needed, forgiveness.
…seek out those who have offended me to seek clarification, understanding and where needed, forgiveness. I surrender my anger to you, O Lord
…correct any untruths I have spoken.
…commit to pray faithfully for the healing of the church. May I be humble, contrite, and confessional. I rebuke any creeping spirit of negativity and bitterness.
…ask for clarification before I make any assumptions.