Every year on January 1st, teenagers around the country resolve to try harder in school, eat better, exercise more, get a job, save money, or be less distracted by the opposite sex. And every year on January 2nd, those same teenagers decide that it’s easier to just do nothing, and their resolutions are forgotten more quickly than information after a test is handed in.
As Christians, instead of setting goals that deal only with surface issues and are dependent on our own efforts, we should think like Paul, who wrote in Philippians 3, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (vv. 12-14). Paul wasn’t pressing on toward a healthy diet, a 4.0 GPA, or a PR in track. He wasn’t forgetting last marking period to press on in this one. Rather, he was counting everything except Jesus as loss (v. 8) and straining (because it’s not easy!) to become like Jesus in his life and in his death (v. 8-9) that he might gain Christ (v. 8) and the resurrection from the dead (v. 11). And he was doing it all as a response to what Jesus had done for him (v. 12). Paul’s goal wasn’t focused on self-improvement or motivated by pride; it was focused on Christ-likeness and motivated by reciprocating the love that he had been shown. He went on to say, “Let those of us who are mature think this way,” (v. 15) and, “join in imitating me” (v. 17). This isn’t something that only super-saints like Paul are called to do. It is to be every Christian’s goal. Every year. Every marking period. Every day.
So as you forge ahead into 2012, stop trying to get better grades and eat better foods. Don’t worry about how much exercise you get or what kind of car you want. Instead, focus on knowing, loving, and serving Jesus more, because it is only in him that true change can be found. Sacrifice your ambitions and goals for the greater upward call of God as a response to his sacrifice for you. Allow God to use you in 2012 the way he wants to, instead of dictating to him how you want to be used. And when it comes to the things about which you used to make resolutions, like exercising, eating, or studying, do them all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17), understanding that our rewards don’t come when we get our report cards or step on the scale, but at the return of Jesus, whom we eagerly await (Php. 3:19-21).
This was originally written for the Trinity Times, the school newspaper of Trinity Christian School in Montville, NJ.