University of Alabama

University of Alabama

Friday, January 30, 2015

(NOT) a New Year's Resolution

Let me be the first to say that I hate, seriously hate, New Year's resolutions. I think they're dumb. Let's be real here, how many of y'all who pledged to go to the gym every day starting thirty days ago are still going? (If you are still going, kudos, keep up the good work.) I'm not saying that I hate resolutions, but I hate the idea of "new year, new me." I think that there if there is something in your life you want to change, why wait until a new year rolls around? You want to stop smoking, but it's only December 17? Don't say, "Nah, I'll wait two more weeks." NO! You say, "Smoking is bad for me and I want to stop right now." You want to get in better shape? Wait until all of the gym memberships are discounted and the gym is packed in January. NOT! Go to the gym and eat healthier starting today. You want to be a nicer person and treat others better? Well, just keep being a grump until that ball drops and then you have to be nice. FALSE! Starting giving out compliments and treating others with more friendliness starting ahora (right now). You want to be closer to the Lord? Well go out and buy a daily devotional book, but don't even think about looking at it until the little date on the first page matches the one on your calendar. BAD! Open up your Bible right now and get to know your Savior! Yes, I know the cynical award goes to me, I get it. But seriously, if you are sticking to your New Year's resolution, good for you! For real. And if there's something you want to change about the way you're living, it's not too late to start.

However, with all this said, I have a resolution. It's something the Lord has really been pressing on my heart in various ways the past couple of weeks. Today, I was jamming to my praise playlist while I studied. The song that was playing was shouting, "Where the spirit of the Lord is there is FREEDOM." That comes from 2 Corinthians 3:17. I couldn't get it out of my head. I went through the scriptures and found verse after verse declaring that our old self has past away and we are made new in Christ, that we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness, that whomever the son sets free is FREE INDEED. Okay, that sounds great, but what does that mean? If you're anything like me, I tend to have a "younger son" mentality (look up the prodigal son parable in Luke 15). I feel like I'm a pretty good person and that I do things that are considered "right" and so I tend to forget what all being "a slave to Christ" means. What God has been telling me recently in so many ways is being a slave to Christ means that I have to love. Not just to love, but to love like He does: selflessly and full of grace. I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day about a situation in which I had gotten a little sassy with someone I have a slightly strained relationship with. My mom's response was that I need to kill her with kindness next time. But she clarified that my kindness killing doesn't come from a place of spite, but a place of love. "We love because Christ loved us first." (1 John 4:19) What I forget about Christ's love is that because of my sin, God couldn't look at me. He can't even stand to see my sin. But His love and grace is so overwhelming that He sacrificed His son in my place so that He could look upon me and welcome me into his home and become his precious child, bride, and heir. The other night, I heard a sermon from James 2. The one thing that really struck me was inspired by verses 12 and 13: how well I treat others is a reflection of how well I understand God's grace. The way that I have been loved by Christ (unconditionally, relentlessly, everlasting, unchanging) has to change the way I love others. If not, I am not understanding the way the Christ has loved and continues to love me.

So that's my resolution. To love more and to love well and to love genuinely. But how can I do this? The answer is that I need to better understand Christ's love for me. And how do I do that? I need to seek him daily and continually. As I continue to seek after the Lord, I will learn more about who He is and, with that, who I am in Him. I've been made in the imago Dei, the image of God. I was created to reflect all that He is. And my God IS LOVE. I don't get to pick and choose from which of God's characteristics I want to reflect, but am called to reflect all of them. And the one that I all too quickly tend to scratch off the list is to love. My prayer is that the Spirit would fill me with a desire and a passion to seek after Christ and to absorb His word. With that, I continue to pray that God will continue to shape me and mold me like Him and that as I learn more about Him I will become a reflection of who He is. I resolve to start with love.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever... Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

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