A lot of people believe in making New Year’s resolutions, but personally, I believe in resolution. Every one of us should have resolution in our lives. We need goals. We need objectives. We need aspirations.
Here are the words of the apostle Paul after years of walking with God:
I do not consider myself to have “arrived,” spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal – my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ. (Philippians 3:12–14 Phillips)
When I was 21, I thought I had come so far. And in many ways, I had, because it was only a few years before that I was living in complete darkness, without God in my life, without any knowledge of the Bible. But now I realize I have so far to go. I realize I have a lot to change.
“I do not consider myself to have ‘arrived,’ spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. …” Paul recognized this about himself, and I hope that we see this in ourselves as well. I hope that we all realize that we are but a work in progress, that we have a long way to go spiritually. If the apostle Paul saw that, then certainly we need to see that, because this truly was a man of God.
Not only did the great apostle realize that he had a long way to go, but he also realized that he could not live in the past: “I leave the past behind. …” We cannot be controlled by past mistakes or live in past victories.
So if you have blown it in the past year, learn from it. And don’t do it again. Make changes in your behavior, in your habit patterns and in your choices that would cause you not go to down that road again. Learn from your mistakes.
At the same time, don’t live in past victories. If God did something wonderful in your life this past year, that is glorious. Be thankful for that. But now a new year is before you with many new opportunities.
Press on for what God has for you. That is what Paul was doing: “With hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal. …” The original language of this verse includes the word agonizo, from which we get our English word “agony.” This reminds us that our lives are a walk of faith. There are challenges, difficulties and obstacles that we will face. As the expression goes, “No pain, no gain.” Paul was straining to move forward.