On New Year’s Eve, we can be pretty enthusiastic about the topic of resolutions, but, two weeks later most have fallen by the wayside. In fact, we sometimes jokingly talk about the resolutions that we know we haven’t kept. We tend to either make very general resolutions, or we are resolute about generalizations. “Someday, I’m going to lose weight.” “Everyday, I’m going to exercise somehow.”
Daniel made a resolution to abstain from unclean food in Babylon (Daniel 1:8). The authors of II Corinthians 13:5 and Hebrews 6:1 challenge us to take stock of where we need to improve and then make those improvements. Making resolutions is a healthy activity, but we need to make measurable objectives if we are to be consistent with that resolution. We get nowhere in particular because we try to get everywhere in general (paraphrased from Robert Turner).
Congregational and Individual Resolutions
What are some focuses we can have both as a congregation and as individuals?
Individually Be a Better Christian.
This is a very general resolution, but there are specific things we can do to accomplish this.
- Perhaps we can resolve to read our Bible daily. The psalmist calls God’s word his daily meditation in Psalm 119:97, and, in Matthew 4:4 Jesus states that God’s word is to be our spiritual food.
- Additionally, spending more time in prayer can improve our spirituality. In Luke 11, Jesus’ disciples request learning to properly pray, and Hebrews 4:16 tells us we can go to God when we are in need. When Paul, in II Thessalonians, tells us to “pray without ceasing,” we are reminded to keep an active prayer life despite the distractions of this world.
- Finally, I could pick an attitude or a personal characteristic to work on. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus encourages us to be more forgiving. Hebrews 13:1 instructs us to be more loving toward others. Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to work on putting others first. Maybe I can work on patience, humility, or many others.
Grow Stronger As a Congregation.
Again, this is very general. How can I, as an individual, help strengthen the congregation?
- I could commit to teach a Bible class or Bible study. Titus 2 enumerates attitudes and behaviors different individuals in a congregation should have, and these attitudes have to be taught. In teaching, one learns. II Timothy 2:2 sets up what is sometimes referred to as the “each one teach one” principle.
- My own interests and talents can provide and avenue to strengthen the group. Ephesians 4:11-12 talks about encouraging one another in our own individual ways. Perhaps I can just be a positive, encouraging person. I could visit sick individuals or cook meals for those who need it. There are so many things we can do for each other that can draw us closer together and strengthen the congregation as a whole.
I have to determine that success begins with me when it comes to resolutions. In I Kings 20:13-14, Ahab is promised victory, but the prophet tells Ahab that he individually had to start the initiative. In Joshua 24, Joshua tells the people to choose for themselves, but he makes the commitment before all to serve God. Finally, Ephesians 4:16 emphasizes the importance of every member of a congregation. Whether we are talking about personal improvement or congregational improvement, success or failure comes down to individual efforts.
lesson by Tim Smelser