My Two New Year Resolutions
In the years before I had ALS, I made and broke, usually quickly, more New Year resolutions than I care to remember. I became so bad at keeping my resolutions that I quit making them. But I began making resolutions again about 6 years ago and actually succeeded in keeping a few of them – resolutions like committing to follow a daily Bible reading program, which I’ve done several times and will do this year also. But following a daily Bible is more like a renewed commitment for me so it’s not one of the new resolutions I’m referring to in this post.
ALS has taken away a lot of the things I wanted to change about myself. Unfortunately it’s also taken away many of the things that I didn’t want to change. For example;
- I am fed through a feeding tube now so I no longer have to make resolutions dealing with eating better.
- I can no longer speak so I don’t have to make resolutions about speaking kinder to people or not gossiping etc.
- I am paralyzed so I no longer need to make any resolutions about exercising or helping Mary more around the house etc.
As you can see, my list of possible resolutions has become shorter with each passing New Year. I’d like to claim that it’s from maturing in faith, but it’s more likely from running out of options (dealing with the physical part of me) that my resolutions for the last 6 years or so have all been spiritual resolutions. But, even for the healthiest Christians, all resolutions should be considered spiritual because, even though we have a body and a soul (mind, will and emotions), we are spiritual beings. It’s our spirit (the heart) that influences our thoughts and actions. I now believe that this is why I was such a failure at keeping resolutions that dealt with my behavior – I was focusing on the behavior instead of on God. In other words, I was magnifying the behavior and thereby minimizing the power of God – a recipe for failure.
A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say (and do) (Luke 6:45 NLT)
The two resolutions I’m making for the New Year are, I believe, the foundation upon which every follower of Christ should build his or her whole life on. They are the roots that all good and godly resolutions sprout from and are nourished by. My two resolutions are the two things that Jesus said would define His followers:
“…love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 NLT)
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”) (Matthew 22:39 & Luke 6:31 NLT)
Jesus said; “All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets (the whole of God’s word) are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NLT)
Knowingly or not, we’re signing on to these two commandments when we commit to follow Christ. If the Christian faith had a swearing-in ceremony I am convinced that pledging to follow these two commandments would be the basis of it. But it cannot be a one-time pledge; it must be renewed on a daily basis and this is my resolution: that I will read these two commandments every morning before reading my Bible so every verse I read will be put in the context of these two commandments. I will try my best to allow these two commandments to influence my thoughts, words and actions.
I suppose Christians could read these two commandments of Jesus and make a vague commitment to do better about loving God and loving others. But if you read scripture (in the context of these two commandments) you discover, as I did, that if there is such a thing as a vague commitment, it’s not an option here because virtually the whole Bible is about defining what it means to love God and love others.
For instance, in Luke chapter 10 Jesus uses the story of the “Good Samaritan” to define what He meant by loving your neighbor. We discover that His use of the word neighbor had nothing to do with those that happen to be living near you. The man that the Samaritan helped was a total stranger. Then He tells us in Luke chapter 6 that we have to love and be good even to people that hate us – according to Jesus, everyone qualifies as our neighbor – regardless of race, religion or anything else.
The good news is that God gives us the grace to do everything He asks us to do.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in (physical, spiritual or emotional) weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)