“New year, new you.”
That’s the thought running through a lot of our minds, isn’t it? We watched the calendar roll over to January 1 with big plans to be so much better than last year.
But what if last year was one of your hardest, and you’re still just trying to figure out how to tread water? Or maybe last year was one of your best, and you actually feel like you don’t have much room for improvement? We often either look at ourselves with the most critical of lenses or with an inflated sense of self. How can we gain God’s perspective on who we are, and on our accomplishments?
It’s mid-January, and you may have already “failed” at your resolutions. After all, statistics say only about 9.2% of us will achieve our resolution goals. How’s that for encouraging? Or maybe you are one of the outliers who is killing it and you are giving yourself a big ‘ol pat on the back. Either way, goals and resolutions can bring up conflicting emotions in each of us. We may struggle with fear of failure, or the belief that we are capable of anything. With either perspective, our desires and motives are in need of the illuminating light of Christ’s truth.
Bigger and Better Goals
The push to make goals and resolutions is prevalent within our culture. We see our peers posting about the races they’re going to run, the trips they’re going to take, or the money they’re going to earn, and we already feel behind. Setting goals and making resolutions can often bring anxiety instead of freedom—especially when we fall short. We often tie our sense of worth to our accomplishments, hoping each year will bring us “bigger and better” things.
But God doesn’t ask us to do things “bigger and better” as the world defines it. He doesn’t ask us to meticulously analyze the past and dwell on what we didn’t do right. He instead gently leads us and asks us to listen to His still small voice speaking through His Word. He asks that we remember His faithfulness, and He calls us to obey and remember that He is with us every step of the way.
So often, we make big goals for ourselves. There is nothing inherently wrong with these goals. But when the focus is on improving ourselves, we can slip into legalism and striving. We already have everything we need because of our position in Christ. When we are in Christ, we are already being made new, because we are new creations in Him! We don’t have to carry a sense of failure because of all that we have yet to do or become. We can trust that if we are abiding in Christ, we are becoming all He intends us to become (John 15:3–5). He is the only one who can change our hearts. Our will can only get us so far. We can attempt behavior modification all day long, but truly life-giving change only comes from our Creator (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The Best Version of Yourself
This year, are you hoping to become a better version of yourself, or do you want to be more like Christ—the best version of yourself? Because if it’s the latter, your goals and resolutions are simplified. Abiding in His word and spending time with Him will guarantee a heart that is more like His.
Let’s run the race He’s given us to run without the shackles of fear and shame. He will continue to change us and make us more into His image as we submit to His perfect will and rest in Him.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1–2)