How’s Your New Year’s Resolution?
Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ . . . Philippians 1:27
Honestly, I can’t remember exactly what my New Year’s resolution was. I’m think it had something to do with eating healthier – maybe no more sugar – but whatever it was, I’ve not kept it.
Most of us have been there. We had good intentions. The new year seemed like a new beginning, but once it arrived, it was just like the old year and we didn’t actually change anything. Maybe it was exercise, eating better, or eliminating some self-destructive habit. Whatever it was, we wanted to change, so we made up our mind that we were going to do so. Then we failed and continued acting just like we’ve always acted.
The problem for most of us, is that we don’t actually do anything different. We think that simply making up our mind to change is the same as changing. Then, when the same old situations come up, we eventually just revert to our old behavior because it’s not really a choice anymore. We’ve done the self-destructive thing so many times that it’s compulsory – an addiction.
Many of us have made a similar mistake in our faith. We’ve been told that God changes us when we come to faith. Perhaps we’ve even been told that faith means God does all the work and we don’t need to do anything. You can’t fix yourself. You’re trying too hard. Rely on God. If you have faith, he’ll take away your appetite for alcohol, drugs, pornography, or unhealthy food.
In today’s passage though, Paul revealed the error of this do-nothing-faith. In it, he told his audience to live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Paul acknowledged that Jesus’ death on the cross was done and, if we’ve placed our faith in him, we’ve been forgiven and saved. Now, our only proper response is to attempt to live up to that gift. Paul didn’t say we earn the gift. He’s just said, You’ve been saved by God. Now act like it.
We’re not left alone in this process, but following God’s path means hard work on our part. Transformation means making uncomfortable but tangible life changes. So often though, we sit back, waiting for God to change our nature before we act differently. Usually however, God asks that we obey, doing whatever it takes to live differently, before we experience the miracle of transformation. An addiction isn’t gone just because we decide it is. If we just sit back, following our nature, we’ll continue to wallow in the old life. If, however, we make radical structural changes, we’ll see God transform our lives into what they were made to be. If you claim to follow Christ, act like it.