In Galatians3:1-3 Paul admonishes: “You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified! The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?” Net Bible
If it didn’t work last year, then it most likely won’t work this year either. Last year I resolved to overcome at least this one weakness. I failed. Every year I have worked on the same old bad habits hoping this will be the year that I can become resolute enough to really conquer that stubborn habit, sin, or physical flaw.
I could be the poster child for setting New Year Resolutions. I’ve been making them for the last 50 years. As teachers we know that practice makes perfect, right? So you can imagine that after 50 years of attacking the same problem with the same solution of self will and dogged determination that I have quite perfected the art of failing. I am not alone. If we look in Scripture we can find plenty of resolutions to fix problems that didn’t end well.
In Genesis 4 Cain’s sacrifice wasn’t as good as Abel’s. He resolved to fix that. He took out Abel. It was an act of the will and he succeeded but it didn’t fix his problem with God.
In Genesis 11 the people resolve to build a tower to reach Heaven. They think that reaching God will solve their problems. Their very desire to take care of their own problem resulted in something worse than what they set out to fix.
In Genesis 12-16 we have this amazing story of how God called Abram. He promised to make of him a great nation. Abram and his wife Sarai wait for God’s provision. Time passes and they still don’t have a child. Sari resolves to get a child one way or another. Before we know it Abram has a child named Ishmael. He became the father of the Arabs who are still fighting Israel for the rights to the Promised Land today.
The Bible is full of examples of how resolving to do what we believe is the best thing for us is futile. Hard work is an important aspect of life and we need to learn and to teach our children to be hard working and faithful but we must never forget Psalm 127:1 “If the Lord does not build a house, then those who build it work in vain. If the Lord does not guard a city, then the watchman stands guard in vain.” Net Bible In this wisdom psalm the psalmist teaches that one does not find security by one’s own efforts alone, for God alone gives stability and security.”
Teaching our children to do things for their own betterment by their own determination is never the final solution. Bending the knee before a Holy God as we are awestruck by the fact that He loves us just like we are, but too much to leave us this way, is the only way to melt away the dross of life. It is not enough for us to encourage them to try harder. Let us teach them to run to Jesus, to His Word for strength, joy, and life satisfying change. The kind of change it talks about in Hebrews 12:1-3: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.” Net Bible