By now you’ve heard 127 versions of “Holly Jolly Christmas”. You’ve swiped your ATM card so many times that the strip on the back is actually bleeding red. You’ve eaten three times your weight in Hershey’s kisses, and drank another half of it in eggnog. You swore you’d start eating oatmeal for breakfast five days ago, but those left over cinnamon rolls keep creeping their way back into the microwave every morning. To top it all off, you’re experiencing an acute case of Post Christmas Depression.
It’s the strangest week of the year, this five day gap between Christmas and New Years. Most of us are just exhausted after a week of non-stop hustle and bustle, while others are experiencing the after effects of another end of the year holiday mash up on New Years Eve. Either way, the one thing we’ve all contemplated as January 1st has come and gone is….our New Years Resolutions.
Maybe 2011 wasn’t such a bad year for some of you. Maybe you put some disciplines into motion last New Years Day that actually stuck and became positive spiritual and lifestyle changes that you’re still benefitting from. For the thirteen of you who accomplished that, I applaud you. But the rest of us happen to be feeling the weight of overeating, overspending, under exercising, under praying, under tithing, under Bible-reading and every other over/under scenario you can possibly imagine. And we’re thinking about how it’s all going to change now that January 1st has blessed us with its presence. Again. We’re all dreaming of ways to build that better version of ourselves, to jump back on that tyrannical performance treadmill and conquer it once and for all. Well, good luck, because luck is probably the only kind of fuel you’ll have to keep that poor, weighed down treadmill from grinding to a halt.
But how about a different approach? How about resolving to do something that the Bible tells us actually works, and is the one thing that can make all those other nagging resolutions a real possibility? How about repentance?
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Whether you’re a five, eight, or ten point Calvinist, we all continue to struggle with the horrible plague of self sufficiency. We want to get on that treadmill and knock those pounds off, feel that sense of accomplishment, and be praised for the incredible amount of self discipline that we possess. It’s as natural as how many times we said “It’s the holidays!” to justify that double-cheeseburger, fries and milk-shake during our 49th shopping spree in December. We voluntarily dig our own holiday holes and then frantically scratch and crawl to try and dig ourselves out. But we rarely do.
When God cleanses us from all unrighteousness, he is accounting for our lack of personal responsibility and self control, but the process starts with our confession to Christ, the one who is faithful and just to do the cleansing that only He can accomplish for us.
So before you vow to replace Reese’s Pieces for rice cakes, turkey for tofu and cookies for carrots, try confessing a much deeper need, a need that we all have to be free from the weight of unrighteousness, knowing that, “when he appearswe shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone whothus hopes in himpurifies himself as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3
I’d love to eat better, be skinnier, spend wiser, give more generously, read more studiously and love more charitably. We all would, but it’s our prideful hearts that turn Godly attributes into New Years resolutions that are doomed to fail. Instead, we should repent of self-resolution, and pray for hearts that seek God’s righteousness, so that all these other things will have a place in our lives that reflects His glory, not our own.
I know that without Thee I can do nothing, that everything with which I shall be concerned, however harmless in itself, may prove an occasion of sin or folly, unless I am kept by Thy power. Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe.
–Morning Needs, from The Valley of Vision.