I once read this great illustration in Reader’s Digest:
My friend Kimberly announced that she had made a New Year’s resolution to start a diet to lose some pounds she had put on recently. “Good!” I exclaimed. “I’m ready to start a diet, too. We can be dieting buddies and help each other out. When I feel the urge to drive out and get a burger and fries, I’ll call you first.” “Great!” she replied. “I’ll ride with you.”
Oh, the consistent failure of New Year’s resolutions. By the time you read this post many of you will have already given up on your new “commitments.” Here’s some good news, Jesus understands your desire to do better this year! And he has a great solution – his completed work.
It’s not bad to want to do better – the determining factor is your motivation. If your motivation is to do better this year so God will love and accept you more, that is legalism and it never leads to true, lasting change. However, if you seek true change out of an overflow of your unconditional acceptance by your Savior, that’s sacred work – that’s sanctification.
I have come to believe that true change comes when you do these things:
Acknowledge your weakness.
Knowing you have weakness (or that you are broken) proves one thing…you need a Savior. We live in a world where acknowledging you are weak is a disqualification. But, in Jesus’ kingdom, accepting that you need a wholeness that you can’t provide yourself is the center of the Christian good news. When you couldn’t heal, restore, or atone for your own sins, Jesus made a way when there seemed no way. True change comes when you acknowledge your weakness and embrace your Savior.
Live your life out of God’s commitment to you, not your commitment to God.
You know why New Year’s resolutions so frequently fail? They are fueled by a powerless oath – an oath you made to yourself. Consider the words of Hebrews 6:13: “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself.” We live empowered lives when we are motivated not out of a commitment to do better, but out God’s commitment to empower us for His glory. God knew that we couldn’t keep an oath or vow, so God made a commitment to bless His children and sealed that promise in Jesus’ work.