Thursday, July 23, 2009
My favorite cartoon when I was a kid was Peanuts. I remember one comic strip in particular. It is January 1st, and Charlie Brown tells anyone who will listen, “The best way to keep New Year’s Resolutions is in a sealed envelope in a bottom desk drawer.
Charlie Brown knew what every person who has ever made a resolution knows. Making and keeping resolutions is a troublesome business, usually filled with failure and shame.
How have your 2009 resolutions worked out for you? I don't even want to talk about mine. If you have made and broken resolutions on many previous New Year's days, you may feel that you might as well seal them in a bottom desk drawer and forget them. That is the experience I have had.
If there is anything to which Christians should be committed to, it is that people can change for the better and that there is every reason to hope for such a change in our lives and in the lives of others.
If you ask the average person about the resolutions they made for the New Year, they will tell you that they are going to cut down on their eating, they are going to exercise more, stop doing unhealthy things, and start doing healthy things, etc.
While these things are good, they all focus on self and rely on self. These kinds of things are in fact self-serving and look to the power of one’s self to accomplish them. Self-improvement for most people means making themselves more attractive, healthier and happier. They depend on the power of the human will to bring about the changes.
Look at how different our typical resolutions are from the words of Paul in Colossians 3:12-14. “God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So always do these things: Show mercy to others, be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. Do all these things; but most important, love each other. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity."
Notice how Paul’s words are focused on others. If we are to use resolutions wisely, we need to turn our attention away from ourselves and toward others. We need to get the focus off of ourselves, and on to God and the strength that comes only from him. What kind of resolutions should we make?
John was called the disciple that Jesus loved. It appears that Jesus had a best friend. I want my resolution to be the words that the best friend of Jesus wrote in 1 John 4:7,8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”.
I don’t know of a better resolution that you could make. If we would all make the resolution to love one another imagine how different the world would be.
My wife's cousin Jerry Patton spent 37 years as the second tenor of The King's Heralds Quartet, the oldest continuous gospel quartet in America.
One of my favorite songs that he sang was titled One Little Candle. The lyrics are great.
It's better to light just one little candle
Than to stumble in the dark
Better far that you light just one little candle
All you need's a tiny spark
If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free
The wonderful dawn of the new day we'll see
And if everyone lit just one little candle
What a bright world this would be
My resolution is to light one little candle, will you join me?