My Commitment for the New Year

As many of you know, I have an aversion for so called New Year’s resolutions. For some, they seem to be a game people play. Oh, the intentions are good and the goals are usually great but, for many of us, the end results remain the same. We don’t lose the 10 pounds. We don’t send the thank you notes. We don’t achieve the spiritual objectives set out for the year and, in the end, we sometimes feel guilty, discouraged and even ashamed.

About 10 years ago, I began trying to develop some identifiable and measurable goals developed around what I called New Year’s commitments. I often employ an acrostic for the purpose of easy memory. During Christmas time, I pause to evaluate the commitments from the year which is ending and then prepare for the year to come.

For 2011, the word “grow” is going to be my word utilized for the purpose of remembering commitments for the New Year. Simon Peter offers us the scriptural challenge of growing “in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). That verse is a good one for 2011, and I am going to reflect upon it every day. I will have it referenced on my e-mails sent from my laptop and BlackBerry. It will be a part of my signature on handwritten notes and letters. Growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is my commitment for 2011.
No matter what our age or tenure of Christian experience, we all are supposed to be on the grow in Christ and for Christ. As Paul said, we “press on” because we have not arrived at the point of Christian maturity. An old saint, long since departed to heaven, made a statement to me, which echoes in mind and heart frequently, “I have never gotten over being a child of God.”

Never getting over being a child of God means being on the grow in Christ and for Christ. Simon Peter offers us two insights into that quest. First, we grow in the “grace” of Christ. Growing in the grace of Christ is becoming like Him, because Jesus was God’s grace personified. Look at His life, His teachings, His death and His resurrection: Those reflect the presence and power of God’s grace! No one verse, no one song, no one sermon — no matter how good they may be — can totally explain God’s grace. You have to look at Jesus Christ. “For the grace of God has appeared to all men…” (Titus 2:11).

Growing in knowledge of Christ emanates from growing in the grace of Christ! When we grow to become more like Him, in terms of His grace, we know much more about Him. Perhaps this is what Paul meant in Philippians 3:10, when he spoke of knowing Christ but wanting to know Him better. If Paul admitted that he needed to grow in Christ and for Christ, then we should not be surprised that we need to do the same. Our problem is one of a creeping sense of complacency. We feel we know Him enough to get by in life. But the Christian life is not just getting by, but it is becoming more like Christ and doing His will in our lives.

The word “grow” will be an acrostic for some specific commitments in my life in 2011. Pray that I will take them seriously and therefore take Christ seriously during the new year. If the Lord gives me life throughout 2011, I pray I can look back on the year with a “to God be the glory” kind of attitude. That is really all that matters, not how I feel or what I think, but whether God is glorified. Glorifying God is the way to grow in His grace and knowledge.

Executive Director of Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions

State Missionary Rick Lance was elected in June of 1998 to serve as executive director of the State Board of Missions and treasurer of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Rick leads state missions efforts and facilitates Great Commission Ministries for the Convention's 3,200+ churches and more than one million Alabama Baptists.

Rick and his wife, Pam, are members at First Baptist Church, Montgomery. They have two daughters.

Any requests for Rick Lance to speak in or visit your church should be directed to Billie Davis at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 253 or (334) 613-2253, bdavis@alsbom.org.

For questions about Dr. Lance's Facebook and Twitter accounts or his blog site, you may contact his social media assistant, Keith Hinson, at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 289 or (334) 613-2289, khinson@alsbom.org.