The Missing Resolutions
The Missing Resolutions
New Year’s resolutions are usually very personal. Some people resolve to shed some pounds, eat healthier, and get in better shape. Others resolve to get organized, and to clean out messy closets and junk drawers at home. Then there are those who resolve in the new year to check off more items on their bucket list. Whatever resolutions people make –– and there are lots of them –– they typically don’t apply to everyone. However, when it comes to followers of Christ, there are certain resolutions that apply to all–– non-negotiable resolutions for every Christian.
Over the past two Sundays at Christ Church we have considered some of those resolutions. We have been challenged to resolve in the new year to have a deeper knowledge of God and His Word, a more committed observance of the Lord’s Day, a stronger dedication to godly reading, a more earnest pursuit of personal holiness, a renewed commitment to godly marriage, a more pronounced devotion to family life, and a greater passion for purity.
These resolutions are not a way to earn acceptance with God. No, the gospel teaches us that we have full acceptance with God through faith in the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. In Christ we receive full forgiveness, imputed righteousness, and the blessed inheritance of eternal life. In Christ we are fully accepted into the beloved and adopted as God’s children (Eph. 1:3-7; Gal. 3:10-13). In Christ full atonement has been made. We do not earn our salvation. Christ has earned it for us through his sinless life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection. It is finished! These new year’s resolutions, therefore, are not made to obtain a right standing with God. Rather, they are a way to express our sincere love and grateful obedience to God as those who are already justified through faith in Christ. By making these resolutions we are rededicating ourselves to a life of godliness and growth in the Lord, and seeking to “make the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).
Two weeks ago, during my morning sermon, I was unable to get to resolutions 3 and 4. I ran out of time. So I thought I would briefly discuss them by means of a pastoral letter. The first missing resolution for every Christian is a more kingdom-minded use of finances.
A More Kingdom-Minded Use of Finances
Two things that we have a lot of trouble managing are time and money, and they are intricately related. God knows that a selfish and worldly perspective on time and money will profoundly hinder our relationship with Him. Isn’t this, in part, why God calls us to dedicate the first-fruits of our time (i.e. Christian Sabbath) and money (i.e. Tithe) to Him? Indeed, God, in His infinite wisdom and love, calls us to set apart the first day of the week to Him, to sanctify it as holy. God wants us to make the Lord’s Day a day of worship, concentrated discipleship, spiritual growth, rest “in the Lord”, accountability, fellowship, and encouragement. If our “first day of the week” is dedicated to worship, renewal, and spiritual growth, then we will have the right perspective the other six days. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Likewise, if we tithe the first-fruits of our income, we will be more careful and generous with the rest of our money. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Martin Luther once quipped that “there are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, the mind, and the purse.” As Christians we are called to foster a kingdom-minded view of our finances. We are called to give the first-fruits of our income for the support, health, and expansion of the church, both local and global (c.f. Malachi 3:8-12; I Cor. 16:1-2). In grateful response to God for the “inexpressible gift” of Christ Jesus, we are called to be “cheerful” and “generous” givers (2 Cor. 9:6-15). Are you a cheerful and generous giver to the work of the kingdom? Does your giving reflect a clear commitment to Christ? Are you devoted to the health and extension (e.g. missions) of the church with your finances? Does your giving hurt? Perhaps it is time to make a resolution in the new year to be kingdom-minded with your money.
An Increased Zeal for Personal Evangelism and World Missions
When you look back on 2014, how much time did you dedicate to praying for and reaching out to the lost? For most of us, personal evangelism and missions is an afterthought. How often do we, with a shrug of the shoulders, excuse ourselves from the evangelistic task? While some may not be particularly gifted in evangelism, every Christian has a part to play in the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20). For instance, Peter makes no exceptions when he exhorts God’s people to “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you–– with gentleness and respect” (I Peter 3:15). In other words, we are called to know what we believe and why we believe it, and be ready to share it with our friends and neighbors. This is one reason why it is so important that churches disciple and shepherd their flocks–– to equip them with the truth (Eph. 4:11-16). Moreover, all of God’s people are called to give sacrificially towards the work of the kingdom and to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest” (Luke 10:2). Christ Church, let us, therefore, resolve to have an increased zeal for personal evangelism and missions. May we never grow callous towards those who are walking in darkness and unbelief.
Reflecting upon the brevity of life Moses wrote that “the years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” He then humbly prayed, “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:10-12). May this be our prayer in 2015 as we heartily resolve, by the grace of God, to live for Him.
- Pastor Jon