Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Worthy New Year's Resolution

Many New Year's resolutions don't last past the fireworks. Most of mine seem to go up in smoke. But lately I've been thinking on a Scripture passage that convicts me to not admit defeat but to try yet again: "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Tim. 4:7-8).

From the Greek word translated discipline we get our word gymnasium. We might make resolutions to eat healthier foods and work out more, but how much sweat do we put into our pursuit of godliness? I recognize this as a serious shortcoming of mine. So, resolved, by God's grace to apply myself more deliberately to pursuing godliness. That might mean getting up earlier so I can read and pray over Scripture before the day's business demands my attention. So the early morning darkness may find me in a corner with a little pool of light.

I need to discipline myself to prepare and leave earlier for appointments (church, officers' meetings, etc.) instead of arriving last minute or late. I need to be more cheerful and trusting under stress. I need to speak for Christ more consistently and fervently as I have opportunity. Whatever God gives me to do, I need to do it with all my heart instead of with a divided heart.

One reason for making a resolution like this is to show me where my heart is. Do I thirst for God or merely hunger for the things of this life? I like the way Steven J. Lawson puts it in his book, The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards (pp. 63-64):
Every great Christian leader has a master passion, an overruling ambition that dominates his life and drives his soul. It is that in which he most believes, that which most captures his mind and enflames his heart. Such a chief aim controls him and defines his very reason for being. This supreme sense of purpose becomes a motivation so strong that it empowers him to overcome all obstacles and override all adversity. For Jonathan Edwards, this passion was the summum bonum set forth in Scripture, the highest good in the universe--the glory of God. Edwards believed that God's ultimate end in all things is the manifestation of His glory. In his theological masterpiece, Dissertation on the End for Which God Created the World, penned near the end of his life (1755), he argued that God made the world for His own glory. "For it appears that all that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God's works," Edwards stated, "is included in that one phrase, the glory of God." That being the case, Edwards concluded that bringing glory to God must be his preeminent purpose. This pursuit was firmly established in him from the very beginning of his Christian walk.
May God help all His people in their resolve to glorify Him in 2009. If our discipline weakens and our resolve crumbles, may we realize that God put the resolve in us to begin with: "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). He has called us to Himself, having predestined us to be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:28-39). He will not fail--and neither will we, because God is for us!