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New resolve for a new year

“I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19).

It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating. We’ve all been there. We all get it. We’re excited We’re determined. It doesn’t have to be a New Year’s resolution—though it could be. It could also be a birthday or an anniversary, a tragic event or an amazing experience. Something on the calendar, something in life, makes us say, “Today is the day. I’m going to do this. Finally. Consistently. I’m going to do better. I’m going to be better.”

Our disappearing resolve

A new year for you may mean more exercise, a better diet, no more cigarettes, and less drinking. Or it may mean a personal schedule designed to be more active or to spend less time in front of a screen.

Your birthday might move you to set some personal goals. Your child’s birthday may make you want to be a better parent. Your anniversary may cause you to invest more time, more effort, more of yourself in your marriage.

A tragic event—the loss of a loved one, a car accident, a house fire—can often be a much needed wake-up call. An amazing experience—a wedding, a new baby, a promotion—helps you better appreciate all the other blessings that God has given you in life.

You’re excited. You’re determined. Today is the day. You’re going to do this. Finally. Consistently. You’re going to do better. You’re going to be better.

But it’s disappointing. It’s frustrating. We’ve all been there. We all get it. Because that determination and drive, that excitement and enthusiasm, all wane. They all dissipate; they all disappear.

Even more frustrating? When that determination and drive, that excitement and enthusiasm to do the good we want to do and to avoid the evil that we don’t want to do not only wane and dissipate and disappear but also are replaced altogether by selfish, self-serving, and sinful thoughts, words, and actions.

God’s perfect focus

A New Year’s devotion in Forward in Christ—“New resolve for a new year”—only sets us up for more disappointment, more frustration, more failure . . . unless the focus isn’t on us but on our faithful and loving God. The new resolve for the new year is his!

God the Father’s new resolve for the new year? I will continue to make the sun rise and the rain fall. I will continue to feed my people like the birds of the air and clothe them like the lilies of the field. I will continue to command my angels to guard them in all their ways.

And Jesus, God’s Son? His new resolve for the new year? I will continue to speak to the Father in their defense. I will make sure that my Father credits them with my righteousness. I will insist that he not count their sins against them.

And the Holy Spirit? I will build them up in Christ through Word and sacrament. I will strengthen their faith. I will assure them of their forgiveness. I will empower them in their Christian living.

There and there alone—in our triune God—is where we find our new resolve for the new year.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, the good I want to do I don’t do; the evil I don’t want to do I keep doing. Who will rescue me? Who will forgive me? You will! In Christ Jesus, my Lord! For this I thank you. Amen.

Author: Stephen Helwig
Volume 111, Number 1
Issue: January 2024

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This entry is part 4 of 60 in the series devotion

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