News from the Front Porch
Did you know that making New Year's resolutions can be bad for you?
A mental health institution in the U.K. warns that deciding to turn over a new leaf in the New Year could do more harm than good. They urge people not to feel they must start the New Year armed with resolutions for self-improvement. They said resolutions which focus on issues like the need to lose weight or job worries create a negative self-image. If the plans fail to materialize, it could trigger feelings of failure and inadequacy leading to feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem and even mild depression.
Instead of New Year's resolutions based on self-effort that can result in failure, we can make faith declarations that cannot fail based on what God says to us in his word.
Some Christians believe they have to work at becoming more righteous, and kick themselves when they do wrong. They don't realize that by doing these things, they are not seeking God's righteousness, but are trying to establish their own righteousness by their law-keeping and right conduct.
Righteousness is not about right conduct. It is a gift of God to us through Jesus. Since it is a gift, we cannot earn it by law-keeping and right conduct. We can only receive it.
It is not something we do, but something we are. It is not about right doing, but right being.
We are not righteous because of how morally upright we are or how much we exercise self-control or because we read 10 chapters of the Bible every day. We are not righteous because we feel righteous.
We are the very righteousness of God in Christ solely because the sacrifice of Jesus made us so. When we believe that, our faith is accounted for righteousness.
That is what God wants us to use our faith for. If you are righteous by your deeds, you don't need faith. However, you need faith to declare and believe that you are the righteousness of God in Christ in the midst of struggles with temptation and sin. You may hear words of condemnation when you fail, but God wants you to exercise your faith to see yourself as still righteous in the midst of that failure. You can boldly declare that you are not righteous because of what you have or haven't done, you are righteous only because of the blood and finished work of Christ at the cross.
"When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it. "Oh what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin." Romans 4:5-8. NLT
Dianne Brady is an author and speaker and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.