Hello from Kathy Collard Miller, writing from the beautiful desert near Palm Springs, California.
It’s the New Year and I’m going to have to remember to write down 2017. And along with a new year often come the traditional resolutions. I’d like to encourage you to think a little differently about those. For instance, have you ever said things like:
- I’ll never get angry again.
- I’ll always show love toward that person who is unlovable.
- I’ll never be discontent again.
- I’ll always be joyful in every circumstance.
- I’ll have my devotions every day?
It’s easy to think that such determination will bring us success. We may think that God demands such commitments. But have you noticed that when we can’t follow through, we get discouraged and give up? Even thinking God has given up on us also?
The good news is that God is more patient than we think. And His patience allows us to grow in our sanctification “little by little.” He’s not impatient with us when it takes us time to overcome our struggles.
I Timothy 4:15 tells us that. It says, “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.” Vine’s Dictionary says the word Greek word “progress” is the idea of a pioneer cutting his way through the brushwood. How does the pioneer do that? Little by little. He doesn’t have a mile-wide ax to cut down a swath big enough for his house in a day. Instead, he takes one step and takes one chop in the brushwood with his ax. He progresses one step and chop at a time.
That’s the kind of “progress” the Apostle Paul is encouraging Timothy to have. Step by step. Chop by chop. Little by little.
One of the principles I write about and speak about to give the biblical perspective of this is what I call “The 1% Principle.” Instead of expecting or trying to make plans for 100% perfection, we make small goals—like 1% growth. So let’s apply that to the steps we wanted to make above.
- I’ll never get angry again becomes I’ll concentrate on the time of day I often get angry and make changes that will support patience.
- I’ll always show love toward that person who is unlovable becomes I’ll find one thing I actually like about them.
- I’ll never be discontent again becomes I’ll find one thing to be satisfied about right now.
- I’ll always be joyful in every circumstance becomes I’ll find one thing to appreciate right now.
- I’ll have my devotions every day becomes I’ll have my devotions 3 times this week.
Such thinking in the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to make more progress because we’ll be persistent rather than get discouraged and give up. Reaching a 1% goal encourages us and empowers us to continue trusting in God for the progress He desires. And we’ll give Him the glory for the progress we’re making rather than pour contempt on ourselves because we haven’t reached
What 1% goal does God want you to make? That’s a reasonable resolution. I believe you’ll make greater progress that way than forming unrealistic expectations.
Just remember that pioneer’s ax when you think of making a New Year Resolution.