It happens around this time every year. We set goals, make plans, write lists, and enforce upon ourselves a set of (generally impossible) New Year’s Resolutions. We promise ourselves we will eat better, exercise, join a gym, read the Bible more, study more, be a better friend, do everything more and better. Generally, my resolutions have lasted a few days, maybe a few weeks, and then they dissolve out of my life as quickly as the newcomers at the gym. I don’t think about them again until December 31, then I feel like a failure and recommit myself to those goals, with the resolve and determination to really fulfill them this time.
Trying to be “good” and “better” and “more” on my own may fool the world for awhile, but just being a good person doesn’t always please God. In fact, the Pharisees were considered good people by the Jews. They were upstanding citizens and respected leaders of the community. But Jesus repeatedly called them hypocrites, snakes, blind guides, and whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:13-36). Really? The Pharisees? Today, that would be like Jesus calling out our preachers and eld
ers in the church.
Jesus was so passionately frustrated with the Pharisees be
cause they had everything backwards. They believed – and taught the Jews – that if you were good, God would love you. If you followed the commands and laws, gave enough, and lived “good” enough, God would love you. The reason Jesus Christ came to this earth is because we can never be good enough on our own to be counted blameless before God, the Righteous Judge. We can try to be good or do more or better for the rest of our lives, but the best we’ll ever be on our own will still fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Pharisees depended on their own goodness, not the goodness of God, to be counted as righteousness, but “if righteousness could be gained through the law, then Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:21).
We love and obey God’s commands because God loves us (1 John 4:10), not so that God will love us. We should be so thankful for God’s salvation and grace that we do good and let His goodness reign and shine in us.
This year, my resolution is to stop trying to be good on my own, but to really put on Christ’s goodness and let every thought, word, and action overflow out of that and reflect Him and His glory. I will obey Him because He loves me. Won’t you join me?