Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Have you made any for 2021?
According to an article on the Atlantic, “The most common [New Year’s] resolutions are fairly predictable: financial resolutions, like saving more money or paying down debt (51 percent in 2019); eating healthier (51 percent); exercising more (50 percent); and losing weight (42 percent)”. The author believes that most people make resolutions with the underlying goal of increasing their happiness.
These are admirable resolutions, and I think we would all, in some sense, enjoy being happier. Unfortunately, happiness is fleeting and God is much more concerned with other aspects of our lives other than our finances, health, and weight.
So, I would like to share my New Year’s Resolution with you. You are, of course, welcome to adopt it for yourself this year, if it resonates with you.
It is found in Titus 2. Titus 2:11-13 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Here is my New Year’s Resolution: In 2021, with God’s help, I want to develop a lifestyle marked by sensibility, righteousness, and godliness.
While There is no guarantee that this kind of lifestyle will bring temporal happiness, the long term benefits will be awesome. Let me show you what the words in my resolution mean in their context so you can decide if you would like them to be true of you.
Verse 11 says, “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people”
When Jesus came to earth, he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Yahweh is a God of grace. Many people think of him as a vindictive judge, but throughout Jesus’ life and in his death we see that God was intent on showing favor to sinful people. Instead of giving me the condemnation I deserved, God poured out his grace on me. This initial outpouring of grace, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, and my acceptance through faith, resulted in my salvation. And, as we see in this verse, salvation is available to everyone.
But we also see that God’s grace brings some expectations with it. First of all, it teaches the recipients of grace that they need to say “no to sin”
In verses 11 and 12 we find that “[God’s grace] instructs us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts”
Godlessness is anything that’s contrary to the will of God.
This includes rebellious thoughts, blasphemous words, and the worship of false gods or idols.
It also includes thoughts that demean other humans, who are made in the image of God, speaking words that tear others down, and committing actions that show a lack of respect for the rights of other human beings.
In addition to denying godlessness, We are also expected to deny worldly lusts.
Worldly lusts are the sinful desires that “make sense” on earth- but not in heaven. These include the desire for power at the expense of other people, sexual fulfillment outside of marriage, and excessive comfort while others suffer.
Those who have experienced God’s grace are expected to say no to sinful desires like these so they can say yes to the things God wants for them.
You may now be asking yourself, well, if God doesn’t want those things for me, what does he want?
God’s grace not only teaches us to say no to sin, it also teaches us to say yes to holiness. Here’s where my Resolution comes from.
Verse 12, with a couple words from verse 11, says, “[God’s grace] instructs us… to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age.”
To live in a sensible way is, with the help of the HS, to stay in control of your thoughts, words, and actions. Have you ever said something (or spent an entire evening saying things) that you later regretted. I have often asked myself, after doing so, “why did I get so carried away making those sarcastic comments?” God does not want us to get carried away. He wants us to be sensible: to stay in control of what we think, say, and do.
To live in a righteous way is, simply put, to strive to do what is right. This means that you understand that God clearly distinguishes between right and wrong, you seek to understand the differences, and you choose to do what is right. This sounds like a daunting task, but with his help (and with a dedication to living sensibly) it is possible.
To live in a godly way is to seek to imitate Jesus. Jesus perfectly modeled godliness by prayerfully seeking direction from the Father, humbly obeying, serving the people around him, speaking truth, and ultimately, laying down his life so everyone can be saved. We can walk in these footsteps in pursuit of a godly life, too.
The question arises: When is this kind of life to be lived? Short answer: Today. Long answer: all throughout “the present age.” That is, until Jesus appears again! And the next verse reminds us that he is coming back!
Verse 13 explains that we are to live in this way “while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
When Jesus comes back, he will not bring grace, as he did the first time, he will bring glory.
And just as he shared his grace with me because of his first appearing, He will also share the glorify of heaven with me at his second appearing. This glory will far surpass any happiness that could be gained by earning more money or losing more weight while on this earth.
So, my New Year’s Resolution for 2021 is to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way. Would you like to join me?