Why Do We Resolve to Improve and Be Better People?
December 30, 2022Empowering Influence, Resolutions
Following our Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus, many of us begin the New Year with resolutions. Most of our motivations are not about greed or the desire to have more things; instead we want to improve and be better people. Resolutions are articulated expressions of our desire to improve who we are, how we act, and to be more productive.
What keeps us seeking to improve and be better people? Our effort to improve is a fitting response to our heavenly Father’s invitation to accept His guidance and learn to “walk in newness of life.” (a) [see endnotes for Scriptures] It is a desire in each of us to develop and mature as “images and likenesses” of God’s heart. (b)
Glory to Glory
We frequently hear a phrase quoted that indicates we are “a new creature” (c) when we accept God-in-Christ. Too often we get the impression that we become brand new at this moment of time. Yet, we know by experience that an initial acceptance does not fully accomplish all the needed changes.
Some changes can come quickly as we receive a sense of peace, and a refreshing relief from troubling emotions. Never-the-less, the feeling we sense in the moment only starts what is intended to be an ongoing process of renewal. Lasting change involves more than an initial start; it requires the process of settling in, receiving nutrients, growing roots, and sprouting before becoming fruitful.
Rather than a one-time event, real newness is an ongoing progression. It takes time for improving perceptions to settle in, to effectively change attitudes, and to empower us to act in agreement with the renewing adjustments. Our “birth from above” (d) brings us into a God led process of renewal, of being renewed. Scripture affirms our improvements involve 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.” (e)
What does “from glory to glory” actually mean? When we first respond to God, initial changes come 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 and feel and believe, we are able to reflect greater measures of His glory. The word ‘glory’ means “manifest splendor;” it is seen! We want to remember the splendor (glory) we reflect “as in a mirror” is not ours, but His. We are in the process of being transformed from glory to glory.
This is why we occasionally hear or say “I see God in you.” The CAP of God, we comprehend and see in one another is what we reflect into each other’s view. As maturing children, our interaction with God becomes more intimate and we become greater reflections of God-Love and Light.
We are in the process of being transformed from glory to glory.
Renew, Repair & Rebuild
Our Bible translations can leave inappropriate impressions. An example is the Greek and Hebrew words translated ‘new’ in our Bibles. They also mean ‘renew, repair and rebuild,’ clearly indicating a renewing process. While the Hebrew chadash is mostly translated “new,” there are times when it can only mean a process of renewing or restoring.
A few examples: “Create in me a clean heart…and renew a steadfast spirit in me,” “renew our days as of old,” “restored the altar of the Lord,” and, “come and let us…renew the kingdom.” (f)
When Scripture speaks of our heart and spirit, ‘renew’ and ‘renewing’ is obviously the intention: “Repent and turn away…Cast away from you all your transgressions…and make yourselves a new (renewing) heart…repent and live.” (g) Again, “I will give you a new (renewing) heart and put a new (renewing) spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone. (hard – as settled)” (h)
So we ask – who renews our hearts, God or ourselves? Actually, it is not one or the other but a joint effort; we cooperate with our heavenly Father. Our repentant heart enables us to hear God more clearly and be more responsive to His guidance. This is why we are instructed to “Work out your salvation…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (i) As our thoughts, feelings and beliefs transform, we become better reflections of His heart.
Isn’t it helpful to know our transforming improvement is equally dependent on our own efforts and God’s work in us? Realistically, we transform from what we are into clearer images and likenesses of God’s heart; bit by bit, here a little and there a little. As we cooperate with God our character, attitude and personality (CAP) traits renew and we enter increasing levels of maturity.
Our repentant heart enables us to hear God more clearly and be more responsive to His guidance.
Everything in this natural world involves processes of change. For instance, repentance is not a one-time activity or acknowledgement. We are to become repentant people who quickly repent and seek to improve and be better. Each time we repent and resolve to improve, we can experience renewing processes. Any resolve to improve and be better is a ‘God motivation.’
By submitting to God’s work in us and working out our salvation into daily life, our CAP renews into better images and likenesses of Him. (j) Oh yes, there are days we slip back into old habits and attitudes, but if we intentionally stay in His fellowship, we can continue to uproot old ideas and attitudes to become more mature children and more effective expressions of our heavenly Father.
Our continual submission to God’s guidance renews, reforms, remolds, and transforms us into better reflective resemblances (image and likeness) of His 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…of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore…have this attitude. (k)
Pressing on, we look to God for His insight regarding each of our situations. As we do so, we experience the blessing of God’s presence with us, among us, and in our midst. Our ongoing 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!
So, stick with your godly resolution to improve. This motivation to improve and be better is always appropriate. Ask God to empower you in the work of becoming a better reflective resemblance of His super-great heart. Nothing pleases Him more!
Any resolve to improve and be better is a ‘God motivation.’
a) Romans 6:4; b) Genesis 1:26; c) 2 Corinthians 5:17; d) John 3:3; e) 2 Corinthians 3:18; f) Psalm 51:10; Lamentations 5:21; 2 Chronicles 15:8; 1 Samuel 11:14; g) Ezekiel 18:30-32; h) Ezekiel 36:26-27; i) Philippians 2:12-13; j) Genesis 1:26; k) Philippians 3:13-15