Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Want to keep your New Year's resolutions? Lock into God's will...

Religion Columnist

New Year's Resolutions are no better and no more powerful than the "will power" behind them. We're great at fulfilling first of the year resolutions for the first few days or even first few weeks. But, as the year passes along, our "will power" trickles down to nothing to such an extent that we forget our resolution(s) until the next New Year.

Let me insert a little spiritual thought since this is a religion column. Let me recall for you the scene as Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane before the moment of His arrest, trial, and execution on a cross. He actually prayed that He would not be forced to fulfill His resolution to become humankind's absolution for sin--for no human being wanted to endure death on a Roman cross. But before He finished His pray, He added, "Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done"--referring to His Father--God. The will power of Jesus perhaps waned so He locked in to God's will power.

Lesson: when your New Year's Resolution to lose weight wanes, lock onto God's Word that says our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, asking yourself, "In what kind of house should I prepare for my Lord as He resides in my life through the Holy Spirit?" A friend of mine said in jest once, "Never trust what a five feet, ten inches tall preacher, weighing 300 pounds tells you." Good point. If we men of the cloth can't exercise will power for the sake of our witness, who should trust us when it comes to the claims of the Gospel?

Lesson: when it comes to a New Year's Resolution concerning your personal spirituality, there's such great temptation to let your resolution wane after a few weeks. After all you've had a knock down drag out fight with your spouse, you've lost your witness on I-285 and you've missed two Sundays at church. Here's where you need to lock onto God's will for your spiritual growth. You see, it's not your will for you to grow, but God's will for you to "grow in grace and knowledge." That kind of growth will help you deal with conflict with your spouse, exhibit grace on the highway, and find your way back to the church house.

So, here's my counsel for the beginning of the New Year. Find out where you're falling behind in area's of God's will for your life, then make a two or three resolutions which will be pleasing to God and which you will be able to keep only with God's help. I knew a woman who made a New Year's resolution to start attending church weekly. She did so religiously for 18 months, at which time her will waned and she had not locked onto God's will. Don't think she's been back since.

If your New Year's Resolution honors God's will, then He will help you keep it and He will give you His will power to sustain you in keeping it. For example, "Lord I know I need to lose weight to honor you with my body, to be a more perfect witness for you in what I say. But I need your help, Lord. I cannot do this on my own. Amen."

In other words, if your resolutions intersect with God's will, you've got help on the way and that's supernatural help. So, have a Happy Supernatural New Year!

Rev. Dr. John Hatcher is pastor of River's Edge

Community Church in Fayetteville.

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