Resolutions that Touch the Savior’s Heart
As I sat with my husband on the front row of our church Christmas morning, my mind was a little distracted. I had just finished leading worship and my mind was now on to all the things I needed to do to host family at my home later that day. Then, my pastor said something that completely refocused my attention. He was discussing how many family members he had with birthdays on or near Christmas, and how he would ask them what they wanted for their birthday each year. He said, “And then the Lord convicted my heart and suggested I ask Him what He wanted for His birthday.”
I have to be honest; I have never been a big fan of New Year's resolutions. People place so much weight on them and seem to almost always end in at least the feeling of failure.
It’s usually a list of all the ways we want to better ourselves or our lives in some way, which is not, in and of itself, bad. However, the focus is on Self.
When my pastor made this statement, the question dawned on me, what if our New Year’s resolutions were a loving gift to Jesus and focused on Him instead of us?
The question that follows then is what does Jesus wants from us? Based on what we know of His character from the Bible, what are the things that He desires from us? What moves His heart?
The pure of heart see God.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 ESV
The first step in knowing what Jesus would want from us is to have a pure heart. We cannot properly know or see God with impurity in our hearts. And this is terrible news for us because we are all beset by sin and fail many times a day! Impurity is not only something that is sexually immoral. Impurity of the heart can look like bitterness, envy, lust, habitually lying, pride, idolatry, or beholding things that are not honoring to God (certain movies, books, etc). To be totally free of such impurities is an impossible standard for us sinful people to meet.
Yet, we are called to purity because God has called us out of our darkness and into His light! And purity is possible because Jesus has accomplished our purity. When we see His face, at last, we will simply be pure; sinless forever! Until then, we fight the good fight by taking the muck in our hearts daily to Jesus and relying on the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. When we surrender to Him, we’re not clouded by the fog of sin and we can see and hear Him clearly.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalms 139:23-24 NLT
Those who love God and others honor His Commands.
“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 NLT
When we focus all of our attention on loving God with all of our heart, soul (mind, will, emotions), mind and strength, we naturally will become pure of heart. Beholding and loving Jesus will always make us more like Him. And in return, His love overflows so that we can love others well. This is what moves His heart and brings Him honor. This is what He wants of us.
Thanksgiving and worship bring Him honor.
“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalms 103:1-6 NLT
The Word says that our God is enthroned on the praises of His people (Ps.22:3). The robe of His train fills the temple where the people cry ‘holy, holy, holy!’ (Is. 6:1). The natural progression continues in worship and thanksgiving. When our hearts are pure, we are able to rightly behold and love Jesus. When we do this, the natural overflow is to worship Him with celebration and gratitude. A continual process of purifying, beholding, and worshiping begins and will extend throughout eternity!
As we conclude this Christmas season and begin a New Year, I pray we all ask Jesus what He wants from us this year. We can then make a resolution to pursue His desires for and from us throughout the year. I pray we all finish 2023 with purer hearts that love Him, love others, and worship Him more and more.
|Tiffany Layton lives with her husband Lex in Alabama, and graduated with a degree in theology from the University of Mobile in 2011. She now serves on staff at her church leading worship, and small groups, and as a church administrator. She loves fall, coffee, songwriting, and staying organized!|