The Gospel of Self-Sufficiency
The one who trusts in himself is a fool, but one who walks in wisdom will be safe. (Proverbs 28:26)
If you are like me, you are just now coming out of the present-induced, turkey-saturated, family overload that is Christmas. Thankfully, this season is primarily powerful because it points us to the the power of the coming of King Jesus. Other than Easter, there is no greater time of year to drive us to our knees in humility as we contemplate the coming of the Child King. We worship, we remember and we celebrate, all at the feet of Jesus. It drives us to the gospel like almost no other time of the year can.
On the heels of this rich time comes the New Year, and at the top of the New Year’s celebrations are our personal attempts to begin the year with a plethora of New Year’s resolutions. I’ll be honest, I think these are often well intended, but poorly applied and, if we are not careful, they stand to completely undo the humility inducing, God-exalting theme of Christmas. Instead of pointing us to our need for a savior, and Jesus’ supply for that need, these resolutions too often point us to our ability to “fix ourselves”.
So, if we are not supposed to “fix ourselves,” how are things ever supposed to change? Can we desire to see things in our life come out differently? I love this little quote from Dallas Willard and I think it is helpful here. He says, “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.”
Ultimately the issue is not exerting effort towards a given destination as much as the problem is bound up in what we are trusting in. Do we want to lose weight because we think our satisfaction in life will be met that way? Are we looking to complete that degree because doing so will prove that we have self-worth? Do we want to discipline ourselves in any given area because to do so would meet some deeply held need for personal accomplishment? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we need to tread lightly. We have essentially turned these goals into functional saviors. We are looking to them to meet our deepest needs, rather than looking to Christ.
New Year’s resolutions can be a good thing, as long as they are understood in the proper context. Our hope, our satisfaction in life, our self-worth; it all comes from God through Christ. We cannot pursue these things through our own self-effort. So, celebrate the New Year, but let us make our first resolution that of chasing Jesus. We will work toward the other things too, but only in response to chasing satisfaction in Jesus.