‘Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions.
I have a lot of things I would like to see happen this year:
And a lot of things that I DON’T want to happen this year:
But here’s the thing about most resolutions:
They are about control.
Controlling my finances.
Controlling what I eat.
Controlling how much I exercise.
Controlling my habits.
Controlling my emotions.
But here’s the other thing:
Self-control is a great thing.
But it is not a product of my will.
I have proven over and over again that I can have it for a little while and then I will lose it, drop it, blow it big.
Because on my own, I am incapable of maintaining self-control.
So it cannot be a product I manufacture.
Rather, it is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
A product of the work of God in my life.
Fruit doesn’t grit its teeth to make itself appear.
It doesn’t lay out elaborate plans.
It doesn’t work harder, smarter or faster.
It just emerges in a healthy plant.
A natural product of growth.
I need self-control – we all do.
But I don’t get it by willing myself to have it.
I get it simply by abiding in The Vine. (John 15)
Sticking close to Jesus.
Listening to the Holy Spirit.
And obeying His still, small voice.
Choosing to keep short accounts with God and people.
When the Holy Spirit nudges me to say, “That was wrong”, I immediately say, “I am so sorry – I will turn and walk a different way. Please give me the grace and strength to do that.”
And when He says, “Get up and do this thing”, I do it. Immediately. Without question.
That might be exercising.
Or putting down the thing I want to buy.
That might be doing something kind.
Or doing a task I don’t want to do.
Whatever it is, He will lead. And I will choose to follow.
I will know His voice by saturating my life in the Word of God.
Making room to be still before Him.
Filling my life with people who point me to Him.
Choosing to make His ways a priority.
Abiding in The Vine.
When I do that, self-control is a natural byproduct.
As is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness.
So for the “cost” of one “resolution” – drawing closer to God – I gain all of those benefits.
Or, more accurately, the people in my life gain all those benefits!
And here is what I love about the Spirit of the God.
He doesn’t use intimidation or bullying to get me to change.
Instead, He peels back layers one at a time and shows me the thing that needs to be dealt with next.
And He does it in loving terms.
Never by sarcasm, insults or shame.
But simply by wooing me closer to Himself.
Showing where I am not like Jesus.
And then giving me the power to become more like Him.
Why wouldn’t I resolve to draw closer?
It is a one-and-done proposition.
Draw near to Him in love and obedience (which Jesus said are one and the same).
Let Him do the necessary work to make my life pleasing to Him.
It will show up in the practical ways that are always on the list of resolutions.
Directly impacting everything I do.
From what I eat to what I do with my time and how I spend my money – and everything in between.
Much easier than trying to gut it out myself.
And productive for all of eternity.
Resolved: Abide in The Vine. Saturate my life in His life. Breathe deeply of Who He is. Marinate in His character, His Word, His heart. Obey Him as He leads. And let Him take care of the rest.
One and done.