It is the time of year when many people begin making resolution for the next. This time of year, a couple things strike me:
First, people want to be better than they are. Resolutions prove that there is a longing desire to be something greater than we are at present. Be it healthier, thinner, more patient, more loving, more disciplined, or whatever else, we want to be something different.
Second, we are creatures fixated with time. A new year brings a new beginning in many of our minds. In its most basic scientific terms, a day is nothing more than a rotation of the earth. A year is nothing more than a rotation around the sun. But one day beginning a new year marks something for us. It’s an event that we can lay claim to for change in our lives.
One rotation of the earth can bring a lot of change. Just think of days like 9/11. However, sometimes I wonder if an event-centered approach to life might leave us always longing for something different. When one event doesn’t bring what it should, we just look to the next. We think the event will give us the dedication we need. Though I’m sure many do hold true to resolutions made at the beginning of a new year, I continually hear of those who do not. “But this year will be different,” we think.
I’m not against making resolutions, and I’m not saying events can’t be important to us. Though I don’t remember it, my baptism is an extremely important event that has marked my life. My marriage is an event I live in every day. However, these were events that I have learned to live into instead of events that marked my own self-will to be something better. I think maybe the best resolution we can make each year is a simple one. It’s not an easy one to always live into, but it will envelope our whole lives:
Resolve to live this year pursuing holiness.
Living in holiness is living in Christ’s likeness. To resolve to live a life in holiness will take all of who I am. Though it comes with a requirement of discipline, holiness cannot be achieved by self-will alone. An event does not mark holiness in our lives, but it is a continual act I dedicate myself to every day.
As a theory, this all sounds like a great resolution to make. However, when it gets to the practicality of it, that’s where we often go astray. How do we maintain holiness in our lives? How do we guard against things that are unholy and walk in paths of righteousness?
The pursuit of holy living has become a deep conviction for me as well as some good friends I meet and talk with regularly. Recently, we began to look over some questions developed by John Wesley and a group he met with that came to be known as the Holy Club. This list of questions was a means of daily personal self-examination.
My desire is that every day I live in holiness. If your heart is being convicted of the same, perhaps with the beginning of this new year you can join those of us who have dedicated ourselves to asking these questions daily:
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I relly am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
4. Can I be trusted?
5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
7. Did the Bible live in me today?
8. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
9. Am I enjoying prayer?
10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?
11. Do I pray about the money I spend?
12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
13. Do I disobey God in anything?
14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?
17. How do I spend my spare time?
18. Am I proud?
19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
22. Is Christ real to me?