Call them commitments. Call them decisions. I like to say that, for believers, new year’s resolutions are God’s continuing sanctification process in seasonal terms. That’s why we put the prefix ‘new year’ onto many of them.
For me, I have been sensing God’s work in two main areas for some time, and I know he is going to concentrate on these two things in the coming months: Less indecision, more compassion. That’s my New Year’s Resolutions.
And yes, I think these two are tied together at times. Often I’ll see a situation and know deep inside I ought to do something (the kind of compassion described in 1 John 3:18), but too often I analyze myself right out of action. I debate the circumstances and evaluate people’s motives while I’m deciding (actually while I’m choosing not to decide – indecision!), and usually by the time I have tried to think through every angle, I have simply missed an opportunity.
And don’t think compassion only means an ‘emo’ response that makes someone drop a dollar in the homeless man’s bucket. I’m talking about the kind of compassion that yes, loosens my grip on things, but more likely tightens my grip on relationships. Yep, the kind of compassion that makes the call, writes the letter, drafts the email, or says the word…
…to the friend who is struggling spiritually but you never want to talk about it ‘cause you know it might get messy. Take more of your time. But deciding to get compassionate may be the best decision you could make for both of you in 2009.
…to the family down the street who just got bad news about an illness, a lay off…something like that. Yep, it may mean you’ll be asked for help, advice, a ride. But what’s wrong with that? Avoiding them just allows the selfishness to sink deeper. Decide to get compassionate and ask two simple questions: “What’s going on?” and “How can I help?”
…to the “stranger” who just happened to bring up the topic of church while you were checking out at the bank or store or restaurant. The best compassion is to help them make a step towards the right kind of church. So don’t shrug off the opportunity or sail by with some weak line about “religion” in general. Tell them your story and encourage them to get involved in yours. Decide to get truly compassionate about the expressed need and invite them to church. You never know what one invitation might do.
So there you have it—My New Year’s Resolutions. My 2009 goals. My annual commitments. I just look forward to seeing how God is going to deepen my character this year as his sanctification process continues no matter what we call it.