A few days ago while spending time with my wife's family we got to see titus interact with his Great Grandpa Wayne. We gave Titus our 2 year old the middle name Wayne after this man because we esteem him so highly. I lost my grandparents when I was young so it's nice to have a grandpa again, but it's even better having one who is so well respected. My wife mentioned that she hopes that Titus gets some of the personality of her grandfather. I thought about it and mentioned that his personality doesn't really matter, it's his character that we admire him for. You see, personalities and talent are useless without character. I know people who are social and funny and are naturally the life of the party but I would never trust them to borrow my car. And at the other end of the spectrum are people we all know who might be socially awkward but are totally dependable. We see this in celebrities as well. There is an abundance of talented people who have fallen out of public favor simply because their character did not match their talent. The talent of Bill Cosby is useless if he is guilty of the alleged crimes against him.
I want my son to have people he admires, but I want him to understand that real growth doesn't come from his personality or talent but through the development of his character. Everyone is about to start making their annual list of things they want to improve in the year 2016. Whenever we talk of improving we have some ideology or person that we want to emulate. Although Grandpa Wayne is a great role model for Titus to emulate when it comes to character, he is not the source of that character. The God of scripture is the author of real character. He perfectly embodies all the traits we so highly value. So when we seek to improve ourselves we should not stop short and find our motivation in the ideology or actions of a mere human, but continue looking past the created thing to the creator of all things.
Resolutions are nice but to resolve to be a more Godly man or woman does not come without repentance. That is why I say we do not need more resolutions that we make but don't keep, we need more Godly repentance. This is not some harsh preacher telling you to stop doing something and repent because your an evil and vile person. Some areas you might be awesome, and in some areas you might do evil and vile things. I say we need repentance because it brings the greatest joy.
The gospel of Matthew reminds us;
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
This means that you will receive more joy and be more fulfilled when you seek after righteousness. Nothing else can satisfy your soul the way God can. So if you are seeking something else or ignoring the places where God is challenging you to grow, then you are robbing yourself of the greater joy.
So for my last blog post of 2015 I wanted to challenge you to think about your resolutions this way.
1. Change the things you know you should but would rather avoid.
Most of us like to change things like the time we spend online or how much soda we drink. But the real challenge is to take that serious look in the mirror and acknowledge that we all have habitual sins that damage those around us. Change the big things in your life and the little things will follow easily.
2. Let joy be your motivation for change.
Often we try to change because we feel guilty. Guilt isn't always a terrible thing, but it's not the best motivator for change. We should realize that the reason God wants us to improve is because more joy is found in righteous living then anywhere else. As John Piper illustrates we are like children who refuse to come in because we are satisfied playing in the mud puddle not realizing our parents have tickets to disney world. God is the creator of joy and passion and those things are fulfilled only in Him.
3. Don't let slow growth be a justification for no growth.
I often hear people say, “well I'm just a work in progress” or “gods not done with me yet.” However, what we often mean by that is, I know it's broken but I don't want to fix it. I grow slowly, I am very hard headed so I know what that is about. But I also know I have used that as an excuse to simply grow. Either you are actively taking steps to change, or you are not. Not much room for that illusive gray area we all love to live in.
4. Don't do it alone.
We all need help. That is what the church is for. It is a place of love and grace, but also a house of truth. Love people enough to tell them the truth in a gentle and kind way. Love God enough to obey what he commands because the world need more people with good Godly character.
Love you all and have a Happy New Year!
Caleb is lead pastor at Logos Church and enjoys writing about pop culture, Star Wars, Jesus and what effective ministry might look like in Tulsa.