For Christmas, my thoughtful 17-year-old son gifted me with a heart rate monitor for use on my rigorous mountain bike XC (cross-country) training endeavors. As this was not a gift I asked for it surprised me, but I'm certainly happy to have this new tool in my toolkit for the perfectionist / business analysts that I am. I love data!
Wanna know the trouble with my new gadget? Prior to getting this, I never knew my own resting heart rate. I also don't know my max heart rate, or my target heart rate. Without knowing my baseline, my first data collection was meaningless.
This occurred, to me, as an amazing metaphor for this whole system of New Year’s Resolutions. If we don’t have a clear standard in mind, setting goals is futile. In a practical sense, if I say my goal is to lose 5 pounds, how do I know this is what I should lose? What if I'm already 10 pounds under my target weight? (Yes, I know this sounds very enviable to many. My secret lies in Central American eating).
In spiritual goals, what is our goal? Do we measure against our 2016 self? Nope. If we are born again, our standard for self-improvement is in Christ. He is our standard. He is the perfect standard for love, patience, holiness, obedience, and any other virtue which we might aspire to for 2017. Check out Philippians 2 for one of many examples of Christ’s standard.
On the topic on New Year’s Resolutions, I will offer you two texts to consider as the Apostle Paul sought to imitate Christ.
1. If you only make it to the third week of January with your new goals, know that you are not alone in your battle against the flesh - Romans 7:15-20
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
2. Paul recognized that only in Christ are all things possible. Self-disciple and sanctification is only possible through the One who has rescued us from our sin nature - Philippians 4:13
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Before you make those resolutions (or if you have already) take some time to commit, or recommit, those resolutions via the advice given in Philippians 2. Spend some time in silence and listen for God's guidance. Allow Him to give you your New Year's Resolutions!
Thanks and God Bless!
PC: Matthew Allen - Fine tuning his ride for maximum efficiency!