This past summer, the world watched in awe as the lanky Jamaican sprinter Usain “The Lightning” Bolt defended his title as “The World’s Fastest Man.” For the first time in sports history, a sprinter won gold in both the 100 and 200 meter sprints as well as the 4x100 meter relay for three consecutive Olympics! Additionally, Bolt holds the record for fastest land speed achieved by a human being at a blistering 27.8 mph. To what does he owe his unprecedented athletic dominance? Bolt’s genetics certainly play a role, but they pale in significance to his drive and work ethic. Bolt regularly sets and resets his athletic goals, then develops and executes a holistic training regimen to achieve them.
While the phrase “New Year’s Resolutions” is nowhere to be found in Scripture, we are called to approach our sanctification and our growth in grace with the same intentionality and attitude, the same drive and discipline, as a sprinter training for the big race. In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul explained that the Christian life is a lot like training for a race: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly” (1 Corinthians 9:24-26).
The arrival of 2017 grants each of us an opportunity to engage in some serious and sober self-analysis. We ought to be prayerfully asking ourselves, “In what ways am I dissatisfied with my 2016 Christianity?” “How have I been running aimlessly?” “What sins have gained mastery over me and need to be mortified?” “What are my hopes and spiritual goals for this year?” “What steps am I willing to take to make those goals a reality?” Write those goals and steps down. Share them with a trusted brother or sister in Christ. Beg the Lord to help you run well by the power of His Spirit.
When he turned twenty years old, Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan born out of due season, wrote down seventy resolutions. One of those resolutions has been on the mind and heart of the Session as we move into 2017: “Resolution 28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.”
In true Edwardian fashion, the Session has devised a Bible plan--which we are affectionately calling “Resolution 28”--that will help you read through the entire Bible in 2017. What a terrific goal! Here are my three favorite things about Resolution 28: It moves through entire books of the Bible without jumping around; it incorporates Sunday’s sermon texts to help us benefit more richly from the Word preached; and it keeps us in the Gospels all year. Beloved, let us not run aimlessly for the perishable crown, but with grit and joy for that which is imperishable.