First Things First

Each January, as we step through the threshold of a brand new year, we make a list of New Year’s resolutions. What’s on your list?

The other day I did a quick review of the surveys on New Year’s Resolutions for 2019—the 2020 resolutions have not been published yet. There was a little variation among the different surveys, but most were pretty similar. Most shared something like: eat healthier (37%), exercise more (37%), save more money (37%), focus on self-care (24%), read more (18%), make new friends (15%), learn a new skill (15%), get a new job (14%) and take up a new hobby (13%).

Did you see some of your resolutions on the list? Interestingly enough, 32% said they didn’t plan on making a New Year’s Resolution.

I can’t help but think the Apostle Paul would have smiled at this list. It’s not that I think he would have felt it was a waste of time. Paul believed in both the possibility and the importance of change. In his own life, there were times when he made his own list of resolutions. No, I don’t think he would have questioned the importance of making resolutions. Rather, I think he would have encouraged us to focus on that which matters most.

For example, in writing once to the Philippian Christians, he made this fabulous statement, “… this one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13–14)

Paul believed that there are some things we need to leave behind. He knew that things like holding a grudge, staying angry, holding onto hurts, continuing to live with destructive habits and refusing to let go of guilt can weigh us down like extra baggage on an extended trip. I have no doubt that he would have encouraged us to take these sorts of things, lay them at the foot of the cross and then walk away without ever glancing back.

But even more than that, Paul believed that real transformation happens when we set a worthy goal. In fact, I think he believed that setting the right goal helps you to know what you need to leave behind. For Paul, there was no worthier goal than to bring one’s life into alignment with the love and grace of Jesus Christ. That made it easy to prioritize the rest of his life.

So, as we step into a New Year, let me invite you to reflect on your goals for this year and ask the question, “Do they line up with the life Christ wants for me?” If not, then you might want to re-think your resolutions.

See you Sunday,