A Time To Resolve
In these beginning days of 2019, perhaps we are all thinking of things we should do this year. The New Year is a time for reflection on the past and the making of resolutions regarding our course for the future. Make no mistake, making resolutions for the Christian is serious business. Remember the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 5:4,5 –“When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”
Our resolutions for the future should be made in the context of gratitude for our present blessings. Philippians 4:6,7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” God will help us as we make our resolutions. The purpose of this article is to encourage resolutions toward others (remember “others first”) and resolutions regarding ourselves.
We should each have resolutions toward those outside of Christ. Remember Paul’s passionate prayer for his own people: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” Romans 10:1. Perhaps among your own loved ones there are those you will resolve to pray for every day. Be encouraged by the words of Daniel 12:3 –“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” A very special blessing/reward seems to be promised to those who turn others to God. A preacher friend of mine noticed children playing in a yard week after week as he and his wife traveled to the church building. One morning they left a few minutes early and stopped and visited with those children and their parents. The parents agreed to allow their children to be taken to Bible study, eventually began to attend themselves, and were converted. It was my privilege a few years ago (2006) to hold a gospel meeting for a congregation in North Carolina attended by one of their daughters and her husband, who was preaching there.
Our resolutions regarding others should include our brethren in Christ. Have you pondered these passages recently? 1 Thessalonians 4:9 – “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.” Hebrews 13:1 – “Let brotherly love continue.” 1 John 2:9,10 – “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” 1 John 4:20,21 – “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
Tolerance, understanding, patience…the list could go on as we seek to describe the attributes we need as we deal with other brethren…and they with us. The entire character of the Christian seems to be involved in Paul’s description of the attitudes and actions he commands in Colossians 3:12-15 – “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Love for our brother does not cover up or ignore sin, but that love will work diligently toward our brother’s good.
Now to resolutions toward self. While each of us could list many needs, I will mention only two in this article. I believe every Christian needs to make a very personal resolution regarding defilement. Daniel’s wonderful resolution in Daniel 1:8 is an encouragement: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel was a bright young man who was a captive in a land far from his temple, his worship, perhaps his family—yet he determined what he would not do. While not one of us might face Daniel’s particular situation, we can identify those sins which will destroy our personal purity and nullify our service to God. What sin(s)
is a very current source of defilement for you? Is it anger, lying, gossip, malice, filthy speech, filthy images (pornography)? Paul’s commands to the Colossians seem remarkably up-to-date for 2019. He wrote in Colossians 3:5,8,9 – “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds.”
There is an old adage that says: “Prayer will cause us to sin less or sin will cause us to pray less.” Certainly our increased interest and the practice of prayer should accompany our 2019 resolutions. Look at our Lord’s command and promises in The Sermon on The Mount in regard to prayer: “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:9-11
The great blessing promised by the apostle Peter is connected to both God’s promises for this life and for the life to come. ““He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:10-12