When Resolutions Aren’t Enough
Do you ever find yourself drawn into a person’s before and after story? You see the photos of how they dropped a belt size or read the story of how they went from defeated to successful. Why do these stories draw us in? I venture to guess that we deeply desire a “fresh start,” a “new beginning,” because we want to shed the baggage that we daily carry around that we perceive is weighing us down. The baggage of not feeling good enough, of not responding in the way we want or should, or carrying around that excess weight that seems to keep us from achieving our dreams.
So we enter the new year with new goals and renewed determination to fix what we view to be wrong in our life – the missing link to our happiness. And we do so well…for a month, a week, a day, or maybe only for an hour. Then disillusionment sets in. We find ourselves discouraged – maybe despairing – feeling the weight of chains that seem to hold us back – the weight of our humanness.
But before you throw in the towel…know that there is hope! Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses, because he walked in our human shoes, feeling the pull of sin, yet remaining sinless. Jesus didn’t come to tell us to be better or to try harder. He came to give his life for us so that we can be transformed to look like him (2 Cor. 3:18). And he gave us tools for that transformation.
How do we achieve this super-natural transformation?
It begins with a new heart when we repent of our sin and trust that Christ paid the ultimate penalty for our sin by his death on the cross. New hearts have new desires to please the Lord (Ez. 36:26). From there it leads us to new thoughts. How do we have new thoughts? Romans 12:2a tells us “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” Renewing our mind comes from reading Scripture and meditating on it. This is not emptying our mind, but rather filling it with the truth of God’s Word, reminding ourselves, or deepening our understanding of the promises of God and who God is, and allowing that to shape our thinking.
We have access to the only book ever written that is alive! Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” However, this isn’t as simple as repeating a verse and our struggles go away. No, we have to be immersed in the Word, soaking it up daily, meditating on it, memorizing it, and then it becomes like “words fitly spoken” (Proverbs 25:11) as it is rightly applied to our lives.
The more we are in the Word, the more the Holy Spirit can use it to transform our heart which transforms our thinking which results in transformed words and actions. The devil wants us to focus on the ways we can’t change so that we are defeated and ineffective. He is right from the standpoint that we can’t change in our flesh.
But God! God has given us His Word, the Holy Spirit, and the Body of Christ as our helpers to wage this war against our flesh and the devil.
I share this with you as one who spent many years living a defeated Christian life, disenfranchised by what I was told would bring change, yet failing to experience it myself. Paralyzed by my negative thoughts and hurtful words, I tried so hard to “do better” in my flesh, but it always ended in disillusionment and despair. Until one day someone walked me through how God’s Word brings about transformation in our lives. It wasn’t an instant change, but as I worked on realigning my thoughts with Scripture, taking captive one thought at a time (2 Cor. 10:5), I found that my outlook on life was more hopeful and my words were made sweeter by the Word (Ps. 119:103).
Perhaps it’s time to rethink the resolutions and open your Bible today, asking the Holy Spirit to bring transformation through the piercing of the Word.