(This post on resolutions was originally published in December 2018. Due to the popular topic, we updated it on December 20, 2019 and brought it back.)
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Many of us do. What keeps us seeking to be and do better? I believe most of our motivations are not about greed, the desire for more, more, more; rather we want to improve and be better persons. Why is this?
Following our Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus, many of us begin the New Year with resolutions to improve elements of our heart’s character, attitude and personality (CAP). This is a fitting response to God’s invitation to accept His presence with us and to walk in newness of life.
We frequently hear a verse quoted that indicates our acceptance of God-in Christ makes us ‘a new creature’ (a) [see end notes for Scriptures]. This gives the impression that in a moment we become as brand new. And yet, believers of every age know by experience, the initial acceptance does not completely change us. This is why we seek and resolve to improve and be better people.
Some changes really do come quickly as we receive a sense of peace, a refreshing relief from troubling emotions. However, most agree the newness we sense in a moment of time falls far short of making us completely new. This is because lasting change involves more than an initial start; it requires the process of settling in, growing roots, and sprouting before it becomes fruitful.
Lasting change requires processes of settling in, growing roots and sprouting.
Rather than a one-time event, true newness is an ongoing progression. It takes time for new attitudes to settle in and enable us to act in agreement with refreshing changes. When Scripture is read with relational lenses, it is easy to see our newness involves many transforming adjustments.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory (b).
The word ‘glory’ means ‘manifested splendor.’ We also want to realize the splendor we ‘reflect as in a mirror’ is not ours but His. So what is meant by ‘from glory to glory’? When we first respond to God, initial changes happen and we experience features of His character, attitude, and personality (CAP). As we follow His guidance, adjust and improve what we think, feel and believe, we are able to reflect and resemble greater measures of His glory.
This is why you may occasionally hear, “I see God in you.” As our interaction with God becomes more personal and intimate, greater light is able to shine through us.
In renewal, we are able to resemble greater measures of God’s glory.
The Renewal Process
It helps to understand, the Greek and Hebrew words translated ‘new’ in our Bible also mean ‘renew, repair and rebuild.’ While the Hebrew chadash is generally translated “new,” there are times when it can only mean a renewing process (c). When God speaks of our heart and spirit, it is obvious that renew can be the best meaning:
Repent and turn away…Cast away from you all your transgressions…and make yourselves a new (renewed) heart…repent and live (d).
I will give you a new (renewed) heart and put a new (renewed) spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone…so you will be my people (e).
Repentance is not a one-time activity; we are to be people who are quick to repent and strive to change and be better. Each time we repent and resolve to improve, our spirit and heart are renewed. So our resolve to be and do better is an ongoing process that cooperates with God.
Each time we repent and resolve to improve, our spirit and heart are renewed.
Co-Laborers with God
So, who renews our heart, God or ourselves? Actually, our renewing process is a cooperative effort. As we become repentant people and invite God to lead and guide us, He helps transform what we think, feel and believe so our attitudes become better reflections of His.
Work out your salvation…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (f).
Isn’t it helpful to understand our transforming improvement is equally dependent on our own efforts as well as God’s work in us? Realistically, we are transformed from what we are into what God desires us to be; bit by bit, a little here and a little there. As we allow God to renew our character, attitude and personality (CAP) traits, we enter increasing levels of maturity.
Oh yes, there are days we slip back into old attitudes and habits, but if we intentionally stay in His fellowship, we will continue to improve and mature. As we submit to His work in us and work out our salvation into daily life, our heart’s CAP is renewed into better images and likenesses of God.
Our renewal into greater levels of maturity is a cooperative effort with God.
Keep Pursuing Godly Resolutions
Our ongoing submission to the guidance of our heavenly Father renews, reforms, remolds, and transforms who we are into better reflective resemblances of God’s own heart! The Apostle Paul amplified this when he wrote:
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal…in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore…have this attitude. (g).
Pressing on, we look to God for His insight regarding our particular situations. As we do so, we experience the blessing of God’s presence with us, among us, and in our midst. Our continual response to the influencing voice of God-in-Christ brings us into and through our renewing processes, from glory to glory. What a promising journey we are on!
So, stick with your godly resolution to improve. Our motivation to be and do better is appropriate. Ask God to empower you in the work of becoming better reflective resemblances of His super-great heart. Nothing pleases Him more.
Continual response to the influencing voice of God-in-Christ brings us from glory to glory.
a) 2 Corinthians 5:17; b) 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; c) Psalms 51:10; 104:30; Lamentations 5:21; 2 Chronicles 15:8; 2 Samuel 11:14; d) (Ezekiel 18:30-32; e) Ezekiel 36:26-27; f) Philippians 2:12-13; g) Philippians 3:13-15;
Happy New Year!
Keith Carroll, “The Relationship Guy”
Relational Gospel Founder