Goal-setting has never been one of my strong points. I consider myself a classic Type B personality, and have been content with a mantra that has served me well each New Year's: "I resolve to not make any New Year's resolutions." This year, however, I felt stirred to push myself out of my comfort zone and make some resolutions. But the three I came up with exist in thought only. Although they are manageable, I sense that as obstacles arise, I will mentally retract them.
Not keeping my resolutions would put me in good company; one bit of research shows that about 80 percent of all New Year's resolutions are broken by January 31st. So what's behind the inevitable failure that comes with resolving to change? Is success even an option?
A biblical look at change for the Christian is encouraging. Scripture teaches that not only is change possible, it is fundamental to the gospel message. Christ's ministry was a call to move us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. In him we are transferred from death to life (Eph. 2:4-5), our heart of stone becomes a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26), we become friends of God instead of his enemies (John 15:15), and we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness (Rom. 6:19). Given such radical changes on a spiritual level, why are changes on a smaller scale so seemingly impossible?
Jonathan Edwards, a Puritan pastor and theologian in the 1700s, wrote 70 life resolutions that show his desire to pursue holiness in every thought and deed. Not only did he lay out the highest standard of personal conduct, but he was willing to pen these maxims in painstaking detail. His passion for purity and obedience to God still rings loud and clear, causing me to re-examine my own half-hearted ...1
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