Ushering in a New Year can perhaps be thought of as synonomsis with the idea of a New You… A Fresh Start. A Clean Slate. A Second Chance. The Resolve to do things differently. To Set and Hit Goals. To Turn Over a New Leaf. Hope for Change.
We feel motivated. Armed with an action plan. Laden with lists. We like charting our progress, checking off items and changing our course.
Of course, we do. We like being in control. We like feeling accomplished. Making ourselves better; making a difference. While there is certainly positive aspects to all of this, I caution that in our self-reliance we easily adopt an achievement salvation mind-set.
Here is what I mean…
How do you feel about yourself when you do something good? Whether it be reaching a goal, checking off your daily to-do list, taking a meal to someone, having a quiet time, holding your tongue, doing a household task normally reserved for your spouse or whatever else you want to fill in the blank with.
What about when you fail or don’t do something you should? Whether it be not measuring up to your own expectations, yelling at your kids, telling a white lie, skipping church, gossiping about a friend, being so “busy” you forget to help your neighbor in need, dismissing your spouse and the list goes on.
In both instances whether good or bad, how we feel about ourselves (and others) is tied to behavior. We do good things, we think we are alright. We do bad, we think we must try harder.
Sadly, this is how we view our standing with God as well. If we are good, then we must be deserving of his love and blessings. If we do bad, no wonder we experience trials. We must work to clean ourselves up; get our act together so He will still love us.
This is achievement salvation. This is believing a lie about the gospel. This is believing a lie about God. The truth is we are all sinners in need of saving. Not one of us is righteous, or good, on our own merit. Even our best behavior is tainted with impure motives. But this is where Grace comes in.
God gave His holy, perfect and righteous Son for sinners. Not because we deserved or earned it but because of his good pleasure, unconditional love and amazing grace for us. For those He calls his children He now sees us as righteous. Even when we still sin. Even when we fail or do something bad. Our standing before Him doesn’t change.
But this doesn’t make sense to us. It doesn’t seem possible. It doesn’t allow for us to be in control. We like resolutions because it’s up to us to achieve them, but with grace it is freely given to us and others despite deserving.
Therefore, instead of relishing and resting in this grace and living in awestruck wonder of gospel truth, what do we do?
We go to work. Working to be better. Working to earn His favor and the favor of others. Working to be good enough. Working to be accepted. We do this because it makes us feel better believing we are deserving of it then. We do this because we just can’t believe His grace is all we need.
What if instead of the typical New Years resolutions this year you asked Jesus to help you just to Be Still and Rest? To believe that His work- His perfect righteous life and His sacrificial death really was enough. That when He said, “It is finished” to know it was!
There is nothing we can do, or not do, to change His love set upon His children from before all time. If we really believed that and lived it out, the only resolution we need is to stop living our life based on an achievement salvation and to better believe Grace as our only Hope for salvation.
Happy New Year!
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