Article Feb 21, 2014

A Resolution Toward Godliness

A new year signals a new beginning. With the simple turn of the calendar from one year to the next, millions of Americans resolve to turn over a new leaf, to make a fresh start. And that often entails New Year’s resolutions, many of which have already been abandoned and forgotten in 2014. It’s February, after all.

As creatures of habit (and of failure), many of us return to the same resolutions year after year. Among common commitments toward change: exercise more and lose weight, save more and spend less.

Such goals are commendable, to be sure, even as motivations to get one’s physical and fiscal house in order vary widely. But what about the spiritual dimensions?

For believers, we all ought to strive to care for our bodies and to steward well the financial resources God has entrusted us. After all, Scripture instructs us that our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit” and that we should “glorify God” in them (1 Cor. 6:19-20). The Bible is replete with financial counsel, too, warning that “the borrower is the slave of the lender” (Prov. 22:7). To devote proper attention to these areas of life is to walk in wisdom.

But annual ambitions toward a “new you” ought not to end here. How many of us resolve, seriously, toward growing in godliness?

The apostle Paul reminds us that “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8). Paul’s purpose here is not to dismiss care for our human bodies—he even says it has “some value.” He is, though, pointing us to the weightier matters of life, things that will carry into the next life and yield “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

The devoted Christ-follower—a “new creation” in very identity (2 Cor. 5:17)—pursues these things, and earnestly so. Yet, this righteous course we seek to travel often becomes a fog. We stumble and fall. We easily lose our way. One reason for seemingly perpetual distraction and disorientation may well be that our sincere desire to maintain clear vision and sure footing is cast merely with single spoken breath, rather than captured intently with pen and paper and set always before our eyes.

Popular advice to anyone charting a new course—or simply returning to an old, tried and true one—is to write it down. Scripture advises this too. Consider God’s instruction to His people Israel as they prepared to enter the Promised Land:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:4-9 ESV).

This call to “write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” led me to consider the placement of God’s Word in my own home. Shortly after moving into a different apartment last year, I determined to permeate my humble abode with the fragrance of Christ. One of the most life-enhancing things I could do, I thought, would be to keep the Word of God always before me. Not simply an open Bible on the table, though that’s a good start, but something more.

That “something more” turned into a 26-point Scripture-saturated statement I titled “The 830 Resolution”—830 is my apartment number—each action point beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, A to Z. Far from exhaustive in scope, the resolution, now framed and hanging, serves as an ever-present reminder of God’s all-encompassing purpose for my life: to know him and to make him known, to testify with both my life and my lips that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. It is, in short, a resolution toward godliness.

While the 830 Resolution originates from the perspective of a single male, most of it applies to any believer, in any season of life. I share it here—imperfect as it may be and impossible as it will be for this broken man to always follow—in the hope that it might be of help to someone else, a fellow traveler.

So feel free to make it your own. Re-title it. Pull out sections and replace them with different ones. Or, better yet, start afresh and prayerfully write your own, from A to Z. After all, the source material God provides—the Bible—is vast. His story therein of love and redemption through Christ for fallen and sinful man is a call both to enter into his grace and to shine forth his glory. Make it your story.

And revisit it often. Tuck your resolution in your Bible, stick it to your refrigerator, hang it on a wall. Place it somewhere you’ll see it often, and be reminded of why you’re here and what this life is all about anyway.

As for next year, if by God’s grace another turn of the calendar comes around for me, perhaps I’ll write a new resolution. But maybe not. Quite possibly, no doubt having stumbled and fallen many times along my journey, I’ll just keep these same words hanging on my “830” doorposts for yet another year. Praise God we can always begin again.

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