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Grace for resolution breakers

February 23, 2017 No Comment
Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer

Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer

by Glenn E. Schaeffer

How’s it going with your New Year’s resolutions? Are you still on that diet? Are you faithfully going to the gym? Are you spending more time with family and less time at work? Are you getting your spending habits under control? Are you reading your Bible daily? Attending worship more often? Gossiping less? Acting more charitable to others? And, those of you, who resolved to make no resolutions, how’s that going for you? If you are like most people, you make resolutions weekly, if not daily.

Resolutions are promises. Resolutions we make often involve our relationship with God and other people. Unfortunately, we are habitual resolution/promise breakers. Let me give you some examples of resolutions we make and break.

In the Divine Service, we resolve, “I am heartily sorry for them [our sins] and sincerely repent of them …” but are we heartily sorry for them or do we find ourselves often rationalizing away our sins or justifying our sin? Again, in the Divine Service, we resolve, “Blessed Lord, since you have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn and take them to heart,” but do we read God’s Word, memorize it, commit ourselves to the study of it, and prioritize our lives according to it? Again, in the Divine Service, we resolve, “to live in fervent love toward one another,” but do we continue to hold grudges, seek revenge, propagate gossip, live blissfully unaware (and unconcerned) for the well-being of the members in our congregation? I confess, I can’t even begin to recount the number of resolutions I have made over the course of my life that ended up in the trashcan.

Unlike us, our Lord keeps His resolutions. Here are a few examples. Even before the creation of the world, our Lord resolved to make us His own (Ephesians 1:4-5). The Old Testament is a testimony of our Lord’s resolve to send a Saviour into this world just as He promised Adam and Eve. Our Lord entered our world and was resolved to die for our sins despite the fact that Satan was constantly trying to derail this resolution (Luke 19:10; Luke 4:1-13). When we were baptized in the name of the triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—our Lord resolved to adopt us as His children (John 1:12-14; Romans 8:14-16) and to assign an eternal inheritance to us (1 Peter 1:3-9). That’s a resolution our Lord keeps to this very day! When we fail to keep our resolutions to God, our Lord resolves to love and forgive us for the sake of Jesus Christ, just as the pastor announces during the Divine Service, “Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins.”

When we were baptized in the name of the triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—our Lord resolved to adopt us as His children and to assign an eternal inheritance to us. That’s a resolution our Lord keeps to this very day!

So, if we are habitual resolution/promise breakers, what’s the purpose of making resolutions? Well, for one thing, some aspects of our life are so important that they require resolve—intentional focus on our part—like our health, our relationships with family and congregational members, and of course our relationship with our Lord.

As we continue our journey through 2017, may I suggest that we adopt St. Paul’s resolution as our own? St. Paul writes, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”  (1 Corinthians 2:2). This means living each day with the repentant awareness that we are resolution breakers, but it also means living each day in our Lord’s boundless Christ-centered grace, forgiveness and mercy. It means spending time with our Lord in the study of His Word, prayer, and worship. It means loving, forgiving, serving, and edifying our brothers and sisters in Christ. It means passionately and personally sharing our Lord’s love with those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

God’s grace and peace is yours in Christ Jesus!

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Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer is President of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church–Canada.