By Kris Robinson
For most, 2018 started with resolutions; hence the name New Year’s Resolutions! However, did you know that research tells us that over 200 million Americans will make resolutions this year — but the vast majority of us will be wildly unsuccessful? Accordingly:
A quarter give up within the first week. A third fail after the first three months. Only 8% of Americans will succeed in their resolutions, in some form or fashion.
Isn’t that disheartening stuff? As Michael Hyatt puts it, “there’s just no point in setting New Year’s Resolutions.”
Good intentions only get you so far; thus, you need a proven system to hit your goals.
That’s where we enter the Apostle Paul; specifically chapter 12-15 of the book of Romans. The first 11 chapters were about the basis of Christianity; now Paul turns his focus to the behavior of Christians.
Ro. 12:1-8 (NIV): “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Paul is giving us is a antithesis for a resolution; a lifestyle! Resolutions are fads, shallow (see data above) and do they really produce lasting change? Sure, 8% may make some change, but why keep doing ‘try hard, fail’ every year?
Paul begins chapter 12 immediately telling believers that if they are going to produce the kind of deep lasting change that happens in a Christ-followers life, then is has to be rooted deep into your intentions and have a plan in order for it to take hold. Understanding this, Paul says here is your plan:
- “In view of God’s mercy”, i.e. based on the reflection of your life where you definitively saw God intervene, or maybe those times you haven’t realized He was there but now can see it; inexplicable moments that have brought your faith to where it is. It’s the answer as to why should we give everything to God?
- “offer your bodies a living sacrifice, holy & pleasing to God”, i.e. how can you live sacrificially, being holy & pleasing to God? This is a command, and what does Jesus say about those who do what He commands (John 14:15)? Also, it’s an answer to, “how do we worship?”
- “Do not conform to the pattern of this world”, i.e. command stating that we have seen plenty of ways people live sinful lives, and likely we know how to as well, so stop doing what feels good, stop thinking everyone’s opinions matter, and live like you believe in an ‘Absolute’ truth.
- “Be transformed by the renewing of you mind”, i.e. as Chip Ingram says, “you are what you think!” So when was the last time you had some great thoughts about God, and what do you allow into your mind on a daily basis?
- “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought”, i.e. be humble! How much do you think about yourself? How much is your time, money and your talents scheduled for the benefit of others?
- Vv.4-8: The Church matters and are you doing your part? Just like a human body struggles to function properly when torn ligaments & broken bones happen, so the church cannot function properly without you!
In all of this is the promise that Paul gives for lasting change; “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is!” Transformation happens, yet it is a process. I first memorized verses 1 & 2 more than a decade ago; however I would not be where I am had I not put into practice the things Paul had mentioned nor had a relationship with the Almighty. In order to know His will and live holy & pleasing to Him, you must have an ongoing relationship; the same is true of any human relationship. It’s time to set a resolution that matters, or a ‘Romans-lution”!
We’ve all got a story to tell; what about going to the FLCC Facebook page and telling it?
Kris Robinson is an Assistant Pastor at Free Life Community Church helping teenagers & Millennials connect & transform their spiritual journey through Christ Jesus.