We are two weeks into the 2017 calendar year. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? The beginning of a year prompts a time of reflection with a glance at the future. Many people decide to go on a diet, exercise more, or resolve to eat healthier food. Some folks want to take better care of themselves by breaking bad habits, like smoking. Other individuals choose to be a better person by complaining less, being more thankful and generous, prioritizing personal devotions, or by giving up their valued time to help others.
How soon do we ignore our newly made pledges? Why are they so difficult to keep? We may have the best intentions, but frequently fall short of fulfilling our worthy goals. It could be our hearts weren’t into it and that we weren’t motivated enough to be persistent in our efforts. Or it could be a lack of will-power despite our desires.
Making resolutions are not enough to quit self-destructive behaviors. Even though we may initially put much effort into changing, we tend to revert back to our old ways. Our great plans often lead to disappointment in ourselves and feelings of failure. What we need is assistance from someone who has the ability to help us, someone with more power than ourselves, someone who cares about us.
Jesus proclaimed that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) and apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Our Lord wants us to depend on Him and trust Him. Thus, real change starts on the inside, and is activated by godly attitudes and the right priorities.
The Bible recorded various accounts of how people relied on God and trusted in His power, love, and faithfulness. Nehemiah desired to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls and earnestly prayed to the Lord for success in his mission. God enabled Nehemiah to achieve his goal (amid opposition) in just 52 days. Solomon advised, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3). Trust God as if everything depended on Him, but work as if everything depended on you. Paul confessed that he had the desire to do what is good, but could not carry it out by himself; furthermore, he declared he could do everything through Christ who strengthened him (Romans 7:18; Philippians 4:13).
Each of these men in different times of history believed and experienced that God is true to His word. He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). With that in mind, what goal would you like to accomplish or what change would you like to make in yourself that would please God?
This year, instead of being self-reliant in keeping our resolutions, let’s humble ourselves, bend our knees, and request help from the One who makes things possible. Our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak and our minds lack knowledge and discipline. Remember that the Holy Spirit knows our weaknesses and helps us in them (Romans 8:26).
By engaging God’s power, perhaps this year we’ll be successful in achieving our objectives and reaching our physical or spiritual goals. If we happen to slide backwards, we shouldn’t dwell on our failures or feel hopeless, but persevere, and realize we are a work in progress until we meet Jesus face to face.