New Years time is the time for resolutions. We all now how it goes don’t we? We resolve to lose weight, stop swearing, read our Bibles more or whatever it is and by the end of January it’s all over, if it even lasts that long.
I want to encourage us today to make some valuable resolutions for the coming year. I don’t want to challenge you as much as to invite you to join me in making these resolutions because these are my resolutions.
These are areas that I need to work on and I’m willing to bet that you do too. If we will practice these I believe we will find that at the end of the year we will look back at a year of more victory in our Christian lives. These 5 resolutions are important keys to successful Christian living.
In 1896 a book was written called In His Steps. It’s a terrific book that I wholeheartedly recommend and while it makes good fiction it struggles in real world application.
The book is about a pastor who challenges his church to not do anything for an entire year without first asking themselves what would Jesus do if He were in this situation. This led to a cultural slogan in the 90’s which was WWJD or What would Jesus do?
It made it’s way into bracelets, bumper stickers, shirts, hats and all manner of Christian merchandise. The failure was not with the slogan but with our amazing ability to justify ourselves in any situation. The problem is that we felt that we were good Christians so if we did it or said it then of course Jesus would as well.
We rationalized that anything we did is what Jesus would do no matter how un-christian that thing would be. All of our anger was righteous anger, punch the wall? Jesus toppled tables. Hit someone? Jesus used whips. Surround ourselves with unsaved friends? Jesus ate with sinners. Cuss people out? Jesus used strong language against His enemies.
Jesus became our homie, our cool hip friend who was okay with anything we did. The slogan failed because we rationalized everything we did as something Jesus would do. These resolutions are similar to the WWJD challenge but they are taken directly from Scripture and leave little wiggle room to rationalize.
I want to give us 5 verses and challenge us not to do or say anything this year without first asking can I do or say this in light of these specific verses?
1. Do and say to others as you want them to do and say to you. (Matthew 7:12)
“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
The golden rule. This is probably one of the most famous verses in the Bible. Even among the unbelieving world. It’s very basic truth and should be a regular guide for all Christian behavior. Treat others the way we want to be treated.
We far too often treat people the way they actually treat us but that’s not what Jesus is saying here. He isn’t even saying to treat others the way we know they would treat us. Those ways of dealing with people are common in the world.
We are to go against that and treat others like we would want to be treated if we were in their place. I fail miserably at this. There is a reason it’s a resolution for me.
This changes how we interact with each other and with unbelievers. In fact this will change entirely how we act online where it’s easy to get behind a keyboard and lie about ourselves or slander others. Before we say or do anything we have to ask if we would want this said or done to us.
Before we get angry with the bad service at the restaurant and complain to the manager we need to ask would I want someone to complain about me? What if it’s their first day? What if their child recently died? There is so much we don’t know. We need to react with the same grace we would want.
I want to challenge you this coming year to not do anything to anyone without first asking yourself: would I want someone to do this to me? Don’t say anything to anyone or about anyone without first asking yourself: would I want someone to say this to or about me?
2. Don’t Worry about Anything, Pray about Everything. (Philippians 4:6)
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
I want to focus on the phrase “be careful for nothing.” In modern language that means don’t worry about anything. What Paul is telling us is don’t worry about anything pray about everything. That’s the resolution.
One of my besetting sins is worry. My mom always tried to normalize worry by saying it was her job to worry. The truth is that worry is a sin. It’s an accepted sin in most circles so we don’t stigmatize it like others but it’s a sin far too common among Christians.
“…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23b)
Worry is the enemy of faith. Faith is trust, settled, confidant trust in God. Worry is to take upon ourselves concern for the future. Worry is not settled and it’s not confident.
Remember the account in Luke 8 of the apostles and the Lord in the boat during the storm? The were terrified thinking they were going to die and Jesus was asleep in the boat. He was completely confident.
You say, “Well He was the Son of God” True but can we trust our Father any less that Jesus. In fact in our salvation the Father treats us as He treats Jesus. Should our confidence be less than His? Jesus woke up and stilled the storm and then asked a stunning question in Luke 8:25, “Where is your faith?” He expected them to have the same trust He did.
What if He asked us that very question tonight? When we worry we worry over things we have no control over, but God does. Are we worried that He will do something bad for us? Are we worried He has forgotten us? If the answer is no then why worry?
When we worry we concern ourselves with a future we don’t know, but God does. Are we afraid something has escaped His notice? If not then why worry?
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom
Worry denies the sovereignty of God. If we really believe that God is sovereign which means over all things and in complete control of all things and if we believe that this sovereign God is good and is working out a plan in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son then why would we worry?
Paul commands us not to worry about anything but he doesn’t stop there. He is not saying be passive because he gives us something else to engage in besides worry. He says to pray about everything. Take the problems or concerns to the one who said in Matthew 28 that all authority in heaven and earth is given to Him.
“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35)
“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Ephesians 1:11)
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)
When we worry we fundamentally deny the God described in these verses. Resolve with me this year to not worry about anything but pray about everything and when we pray don’t check it off like a list.
Don’t say I prayed so now I can worry. Partial obedience is disobedience. Leave the worry there. If you struggle with it pray the prayer of the centurion in Mark 9:24 “I believe help my unbelief.”
3. Have a mind of humility. (Philippians 2:5)
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
This point comes in the middle of what Paul is saying. Look at verses 3-4:
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
Paul is telling them to not do anything through selfish ambition or conceit but rather in humility to consider others as better than themselves. He follows that up by telling them how its done, by looking to the interests of others over their own interests.
Then we come to verse 5 where he tells them to have this same mind that was in Christ Jesus. We hear preaching on humility all the time and it seldom makes a difference because we all believe we are humble.
Some of the proudest people I know believe in their heart of hearts that they are the most humble person on earth. The command to be humble isn’t enough because we are often self deceived.
So Paul holds up Christ as the ultimate example. If we compare ourselves to others we can justify our false humility but not compared to Jesus. So what was the mind of Christ that should be in us? Look at verse 6:
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Christ was the only person deserving glory and honor and He lowered Himself and became a servant to those who should have been His servant. None of us are deserving of the place of honor that Christ is.
If Christ deserved honor and made Himself a servant then we should never lift ourselves over others. Even if we believe that we deserve something we don’t deserve what Christ did. This year we need to make ourselves servants not masters.
If your the boss then serve those under you don’t make them serve you. Don’t consider anything beneath you and if your not treated with the respect you think you deserve treat them with the respect you think you deserve.
This year look to the interests of others before our own, consider everyone we meet as better than ourselves, treat everyone with the honor and respect we think we deserve.
4. In Everything Give Thanks. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
This is a hard one. It can be easy to be joyful in bad circumstances or even content in bad circumstances but this verse actually commands us to give thanks for everything, good or bad.
I have heard men stand up and testify that they are thankful for being in prison knowing they wouldn’t have sought the Lord without it. Thanks flows from realizing that good came out of the bad situation.
So how do we give thanks for everything? The key is Romans 8:28. In that verse we are told that all things work together for good to those who love God. All things all the time work for our good.
This is why we need to give thanks for everything because God is using everything good or bad to conform us to the image of Christ. This year let’s give thanks for everything that comes our way.
From the bonus check to the car accident. From the birth in the family to the death in the family. This command will change how we react to everything if we obey it.
5. Do Everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Colossians 3:17)
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
This will change our lives if we apply it consistently. If we only did things that bring glory to God or said things that bring glory to God. You can’t commit adultery in the name of Jesus, or do drugs in the name of Jesus, or get drunk or watch pornography in the name of Jesus.
You also can’t gossip in the name of Jesus. You can’t backbite or speak against others in the name of Jesus. You can’t be rude to your spouse in the name of Jesus.
A lot would change in our lives if we ran everything we said or did by this one filter: does it bring glory to God? Can I do it in the name of the Lord Jesus?
These 5 verses are resolutions for the coming year. I want to encourage you to adopt these and post them up somewhere.
How much would change in our families and our church as a whole if we didn’t do anything or say anything this coming year without first asking ourselves: is it in line with these verses?
Do and say to others as you want them to do and say to you.
Don’t worry about anything instead pray about it.
Become a servant. Consider everyone as better than yourself, look to the interests of others before your own and treat everyone with the respect you fell you should be treated.
Give thanks for everything…everything. This will eliminate a lot of complaining.
Whatever you do in word or action do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. If you can’t say I am doing such and such to the glory of God or in the name of Jesus then don’t do it.