Why we have difficulty keeping resolutions

We’re barely into 2009, but likely (1) you’ve made a New Year’s resolution or two and (2) you’ve already stumbled in your new plan.

Why is that? Why do so many people have so much trouble keeping their New Year’s resolutions?

The Bible tells the hard truth: Compared to God, none of us are good people, trying to be better. We’re all sinners. “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

Many admit, “Nobody’s perfect.”

God’s message is more dire, though. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

In other words, we have a hard time keeping our New Year’s promises to ourselves because we have trouble keeping promises to everyone else, too. We’re sinners.

Our hearts even lie to us about our ability to be good, and to get better.

Skeptical? (The message that we’re all desperately sinful, more than we can fathom, is not exactly popular.)

Let’s say that above any other vow, you resolve not to die this year. Will you be able to keep that vow? Are you positive?

You may live well past 2009, or one day this year you may breathe your last. Either way, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

That’s the key proof that none of us are good enough on our own. No one comes close. Other businesses may struggle in 2009, but this year funeral homes will have as many customers as in past years.

The prime New Year’s resolution on which to concentrate on, then, is the one Jesus of Nazareth made.

“When Christ came into the world, he said: ‘... Here I am — it is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will, O God’” (Hebrews 10:5–7).

That is, Jesus, before he took flesh inside his virgin mother, made an astonishing resolution. He left heaven’s glory, vowing to do whatever his Father wanted.

He did. He did it in your place. God’s Son lived a humble, selfless, holy life for you. He died on the cross for you.

So you don’t have to resolve to be good enough for God to accept you.

You don’t have to vow to improve enough for God to like you. He’s crazy about you. He sent his Son to die for you. Now Jesus lives. He reigns. Rely on Jesus.

Happy New Year.

Rev. Daniel A. Witte, is pastor of Risen Savior Lutheran Church. He can be contacted at 747-5564. For more information see Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Herald.