January Theme: New
Old Resolution: James 1:22-24
New Revolution: Philippians 3:13-15
At my church we have a very dear and sweet Deacon who periodically mixes up words. Shortly after the New Year he gave a heart warming testimony to the whole congregation in which he continuously said “New Year’s Revolution” instead of “Resolution”. And trust me, he said it a lot. Of course we all knew what he meant and there were only a few titters and chuckles.
Mostly I took his testimony for what it was worth and dismissed his intention to say resolution because I don’t generally make New Year’s resolutions. But throughout each New Year you tend to hear the phrase a lot. Even in my daily devotionals Christians are talking about New Year’s Resolutions – why you should make them; how to make them stick and what scriptures back that up. The ones I tend to pay closest attention to are the ones that explain why resolutions don’t work.
One particularly good devotional spoke about resetting your preset buttons. Basically he explained that many of us have old habits that we don’t break before making a new resolution and therefore we easily fall back into the old ways. Well that made perfect sense but his great article did not go on to explain how he suggested we should reset our presets. That’s when I got to thinking about the Deacon’s revolutionary slip of the tongue. God may have been speaking through him more than he knows.
James 1:22-24 says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”
For many of us, making a New Year’s resolution is really a matter of deceiving our own selves. Even when we make them, we know we really aren’t going to keep them. And trying to follow a New Year’s resolution is like being a hearer and not a doer of the word. We speak about the changes we want to make; we write them down and even make a list of how we want to accomplish them. And then we even try. We start our resolution, we jump in and swear this time we’ll accomplish our goals. But right about this time of the year we have fizzled out already and we’re looking for a good justification for why we couldn’t change or we’ve already begun wallowing in the guilt of not being able to change.
It is as if we see our real selves in the mirror of decision and several weeks later we have already forgotten what we look like.
Webster’s New World Dictionary gives three basic definitions for the word “revolution”. 1: A complete cycle of events. 2: A complete or radical change of any kind or 3: The overthrow of a governing system with another governing system taking its place.
Obviously when we make a resolution and do not follow through, we are not completing the full cycle of events we’ve laid out for ourselves. Obviously there has not been a radical enough change in order for the change to stick. And obviously, we would not so easily fall back into our old ways of doing things if the new goal had taken the place of the old habit.
Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Can you see the three definitions illustrated here?
To complete this full cycle of events we must first forget the things in the past; secondly we much reach for the things in front of us, and finally we must continuously strive for the final goal or prize at the end. So let me interject briefly – Does your goal, resolution or New Year’s Revolution contain a prize waiting for you at the end?
Next, the radical overhaul in this scripture is to forget what has happened in the past. Friends and family often hear this phrase from me: “yeah, but…” I know, forgetting the past results, past events, past circumstances, past failures and past pains is not so easy at all. However, this scripture gives us the instructions on how to make that radical change – by replacing the thoughts of the past with the prize that remains.
When your mind strays back towards “yeah, but…” Tell it, “No, see…” Yeah, but – last time I tried to start a business… No, see if I launch this business I’ll have more security. Yeah, but everyone says I need something to fall back on… No, see if I pursue this dream I will be walking in God’s will for my life. Yeah, but last time I gained all the weight back… No, see if I lose this weight I’ll be happier, healthier and sexier too. Yeah, but I just can’t seem to stick to a budget… No, see if I get a handle on my money, I’ll have more money to spend on me.
If we have to be hearers as well as doers then don’t listen to yourself when you remind yourself of the past. Instead speak positive words of encouragement to yourself, pay attention to yourself and keep pressing on towards the prize of the goal before you.
Revolutions that have been fought and won by countries did not fight one small battle for a few weeks and declare the revolution a success. A true revolution can be a lengthy campaign with many smaller battles won and lost along the way. Often even the battle is not won until the troops regroup, change direction or alter their original plans. Have flexibility, have a bit of forgiveness for yourself and keep doing what you know you must to accomplish your goal.
You see, resolutions are a thing of the past! Forget about them and make a New Year’s Revolution instead! Continuously, consistently, ever seeking, ever stretching, ever reaching – revitalizing, revamping, refreshing, resetting, renewing and redoing whatever you need to in order to press toward the mark until the prize is obtained.
Your Home Study homework: Describe how the parable found in Luke 11:24-26 is an example of one of Webster’s three definitions of “revolution.”
© 2008 Deidre Campbell-Jones