As we entered this new decade, over sixty percent of people over the world once again created resolutions for the upcoming year and made goals for themselves.
If you are anything like me, you quietly make resolutions knowing deep inside you won’t remain committed for an entire year.
As I reflected on my resolutions for this year I realized they are all, pretty much, the same resolutions that I have made and failed to keep over the last few years: Eat healthier; Save more while spending less; Read the entire Bible within a year; Commit to daily Bible journaling.
Philippians 3:10-11 says, “My aim is to know him [Jesus], to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
I am so amazed at the Apostle Paul’s singular focus and goal in life: to know Jesus Christ intimately and passionately. Paul’s aim was not simply to know Him, but to be like Him.
Paul committed himself:
- To endure the things Jesus endured.
- To share in the pain Jesus felt.
- To bear the burden for the lost that Jesus bore.
- To willingly accept suffering for the sake of Christ.
- To die to self; focused on the future blessing of an eternity spent with Jesus.
Such passion and commitment!
Paul was willing to suffer and die so that all those he encountered would be saved, yet I complain about drinking a gallon of water every day.
As I read these verses in Philippians and meditate on Paul’s aim in life, it occurs to me that throughout the Bible we often see the same pattern: death before life.
1 Peter 2:24 tells us that Jesus first bore the sins of the world and suffered the death we deserved. After paying the penalty for our sins His resurrection demonstrated His power over death and paved the way for our salvation.
Death before life.
Romans 6:6 teaches us that to experience salvation, we must first die to sin to be born again into new life with Christ.
Death before life.
Believers must continue to die to self as part of our ongoing transformation to becoming more like Jesus. Jesus makes it clear that if we are to follow and become more like Him, we must deny ourselves. We surrender and empty ourselves of our self-focused desires, habits, and agenda as God pours Himself into us. We resist the urges and temptations to satisfy our emotions and resume self-centered behaviors. Most importantly, we rely on God.
Paul mastered this. He surrendered himself to suffer and endure the hardest things for Jesus, knowing that the best was yet to come. Paul gave up his fleshly desires to follow Christ, trusting Him with his earthly life and his eternal security.
Those same godly principles that Paul demonstrated can be applied to the small, seemingly insignificant issues in our lives. Much of why my new-year resolutions fail, even those centered around my spiritual life, is because I attempt to appease God in my strength. To have more of God in my life, there needs to be less of me. If I don’t decrease, then how can God increase?
As I study about the power of Jesus’ resurrection in my life, I have resigned to change to a single resolution. It will no longer begin on January 1st. It will begin new every single day.
My only resolution is to live a life that is dying to know Jesus. A life in which I surrender my self-centered habits to Him, whether it is overspending or overeating. A life in which I gradually and systematically decrease things that distract me from God so that He may increase in my life, whether those distractions are from work, social media, or Netflix. A life in which I commit to loving Jesus so much that I can’t help but learn more about Him, think about Him, prioritize Him, talk about Him, and desire to know Him more and more.
To what lengths are you willing to go to know Jesus better?
Peace and grace to you,
Week 2 Challenge: As you read through the first half of the crucifixion story in Matthew this week, take note of the way Jesus responds when others panic or over-react. What do these things teach you about His character?
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This year, we’ve put together an incredible team of writers, and we’re so excited to hear from each of them! To find out more about our 2020 writers, click here!