New Heart Resolutions

I will lose weight. I will spend more time with my kids. I will avoid chocolate. I will spend less time on Facebook. I will go to the gym. I will quit smoking. I won’t shop for groceries at mealtimes. I will get organized.

Resolutions such as these spring quite naturally to our minds at this time of year, and many of them would be of great benefit, if we actually kept them. But at least part of the reason we make the same resolutions every year is because we pick the ones that spring to mind first, rather than the ones that reflect our deepest commitments. “The heart wants what the heart wants,” Woody Allen said, and he is right: what we actually do reveals our heart far more than what we plan to do.

We are all a little bit afraid of this measure, though. We like to think better of our deepest desires than our lives and decisions say we ought to. The way we lived last year showed much more selfishness, laziness, pride, and covetousness coming out of our hearts than we knew was down there. Our intentions take orders from the heart, and so all of our resolve founders against our rocky hearts. We don’t need new resolutions; we need new hearts.

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Col. 3:9-10, ESV

And if we have been raised with Christ, as Paul writes to the Colossians, new hearts, new selves, are exactly what we have received in Christ. Since this is true, and the driving force of change in our lives is no longer our own wills, but the Holy Spirit at work in us, Paul presents us with God’s list of resolutions for us:

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Col. 3:12-14, ESV

Losing weight and organizing your life are fine things, but how much better to come to the end of 2012 and see the fruit of humility, patience, and love. So seek first these things, and let all other resolutions find their place behind love.

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