For Auld Lang Syne

Have you ever found yourself singing a familiar melody on December 31 a bit unsure of of what “Auld Lang Syne” is or who exactly we’re supposed to pass a cup of kindness to?  While song lyrics may be lost in translation for many, most people find themselves doing exactly what the song implies.  For however brief a moment, we press pause on our life to consider days gone by.  We remember.  We reflect.  We don’t just stop there, however.  We promise.  We resolve.  We try.  We even try harder.  Yet more often than not, we find ourselves defeated before winter has even given way to spring.  The cynics among us will say, “Why bother?”  The broken places of our hearts and lives might even call out accusations and condemnation.  ”You’re back here again?”  ”You’re still struggling with that?”  As a result, many of us are often tempted to despair and give up or “fix” the problem by pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps and turning to our old friend self-discipline.

So are resolutions good?  Are they bad?  Should we jump on board?  Should we stay clear?  Or are they morally neutral in an of themselves like most created things?  Morally neutral things that can go either way depending on the heart of the person making them and the source they place their hope in?  The truth is that the message of the Gospel has everything to do with transformation and nothing to do with bootstraps.  Elisabeth Elliot once wrote, “Discipline is not my claim on Christ, but the evidence of His claim on me.” 

At the same time, as D.A. Carson explains,

“People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

Resolutions can certainly play a role in this grace-driven effort.

Here are a few posts that I’ve found helpful as I’ve contemplated resolutions and the year’s end.

Twelve Important Questions Every Christian Should Ask Themselves Each Year
Dave Cover shared a blog post with Don Whitney’s original twelve questions a few years ago.  I’ve found them helpful each year since.

Year End Thoughts from Spurgeon
But here is the joy, here is the peace of Christians, that our salvation is a finished one…

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards
If you’re like me, your gut reaction might be to scan this lengthy list, throw your hands up, and shout, “Yeah, right.”  Instead, perhaps we should take a moment to think about how this opening line might speak to any resolutions we make.

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake. 

Here I Raise My Ebenezer: How this Discipline Buoyed my 2016
Inspired by a twelve verb challenge from Ann Voskamp, Lore Wilbert shares how a simple monthly focus spurred growth and encouraged her faith during a particularly difficult year.

Happy New Year!

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