Why Do We Resolve To Improve and Be Better People?
January 1, 2021Repentance, Resolutions, Restoration
Following our Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus, many of us begin the New Year with resolutions. I believe most of our motivations are not about greed or the desire to have more; instead we want to improve and be better people.
Do you ever make New Year’s resolutions? Resolutions are efforts to improve who we are, how we act, and how to be more productive. What keeps us seeking to be better and do better? It is an inherent God given provision in each of us to grow, develop and mature into better expressions of our heavenly Father. Our desire to improve is a fitting response to God’s invitation to accept His guidance and learn to walk in newness of life.
We frequently hear a verse that indicates our acceptance of God-in Christ makes us ‘a new creature’. (a) [see end notes for Scriptures] Too often we get the impression that we become brand new in this moment of time. And yet, believers of every age know by experience that our initial acceptance does not fully accomplish needed changes. So we seek and resolve to improve and be better people.
Some changes really do come quickly as we receive a sense of peace, and a refreshing relief from troubling emotions. However, the newness we can sense in the moment falls very 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 becoming fruitful.
Lasting change involves the process of settling in, growing roots, and sprouting before becoming fruitful.
Rather than a one-time event, true newness is an ongoing progression. It takes time for new perceptions and attitudes to settle in and enable us to act in agreement with renewing 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 want to realize the manifested splendor (glory) 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 begin to experience the improving features of His character, attitude, and personality (CAP). As we follow His guidance and improve what we think, feel and believe, we are able to reflect greater measures of His glory.
This is why we occasionally hear, “I see God in you.” When our interaction with God becomes more personal and intimate, as maturing children, we become greater reflections of God-Love and Light. The CAP of God we ‘see’ in each other is what we reflect into each other’s view.
The Renewal Process
There are many word translations in our Bible that can leave an improper impression. An example is the Greek and Hebrew words that are translated ‘new’ in our Bibles. They can also mean ‘renew, repair and rebuild.’ While the Hebrew chadash is mostly translated “new,” there are times when it can only mean a renewing process: “create in me a clean heart…and renew a steadfast spirit in me,” “renew our days as of old,” “renewed the alter of the Lord,” and, “come…let us renew the kingdom.” (c) When Scripture speaks of our spirit and heart, it is obvious that “renew” is 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)
Everything in this natural world involves processes. For instance, repentance is not a one-time activity; we are to be people who quickly repent and strive to be better. Each time we repent and resolve to improve, our spirit and heart begin a renewing process. So our resolve to be and do better is an ongoing “God thing,” as we cooperate with His work in us.
Each time we repent and resolve to improve, our spirit and heart begin a renewing process.
Co-Laborers with God
Now we ask – who renews our heart, God or ourselves? Actually, our renewing is a cooperative effort. Our activity as repentant people enables us to hear and more clearly follow His guidance. As our thoughts, feelings and beliefs transform, we 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 know our transforming improvement is equally dependent on “God’s work in us” and our own efforts? Realistically, we are transformed from what we are into more of God’s desire for us; 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 continue to uproot old corrupting attitudes and become more mature expressions of our heavenly Father. As we submit to God’s work in us and “work out our salvation” (g) into daily life, our CAP renews into better “images and likenesses” of His heart. (h)
If we intentionally stay in God’s fellowship, we continue to uproot old corrupting attitudes and become more mature expressions of His heart.
Keep Pursuing Godly Resolutions
Our ongoing submission to God’s guidance renews, reforms, remolds, and transforms us into better reflective resemblances (image and likeness) of His own heart! The Apostle Paul amplifies this:
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. (i)
Pressing on, we look to God for His insight regarding each of 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 through our renewing processes, from glory to glory. What a promising journey we are on!
Our continual response to the influencing voice of God-in-Christ brings us through our renewing processes.
So, stick with your godly resolution to improve. This motivation to be and do better is always an appropriate response. Ask God to empower you in the work of becoming a better reflective resemblance of His super-great heart. Nothing pleases Him more!
a) 2 Corinthians 5:17; b) 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; c) Psalm 51:10; Lamentations 5:21; 2 Chronicles 15:8; 1 Samuel 11:14; d) Ezekiel 18:30-32; e) Ezekiel 36:26-27; f) Philippians 2:12-13; g) Philippians 2:12; h) Genesis 1:26; i) Philippians 3:13-15; Luke 9:62