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What God does with our resolutions

As I write this, 2024 is just over a week away.  At this time of year, many of us participate in the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.  A resolution is a plan or proposal of what a person intends to do.  Not only do individuals make resolutions, but government bodies like Congress or the City Council make them all the time. A resolution is a matter of the law–that is, it is concerned with what you do

Did you make a New Year’s resolution last year?  Maybe you resolved to read your Bible more often, or to give up a bad habit.  Perhaps you were going to spend less time scrolling through your phone.  Whatever it may have been, a year later, how is that going for you?  The truth is, our track record at keeping our resolutions is pretty lousy.

In the first chapter of Matthew’s gospel, we read that, like us, Joseph made a resolution. He resolved to quietly divorce his betrothed, Mary, who was found to be with a child that wasn’t his own.  Joseph hoped, by following his plan, to use the law to minimize the shame of this situation.  

But then, an angel showed up with a word from God.  And when God speaks, all our plans are dashed to pieces.  The law isn’t going to remove the shame of a wife already pregnant with a baby who isn’t his.  It can’t.  In the end, the law will do what it was given to do: accuse us and lay our sin bare.  

But the angel had not come to deliver the law.  The angel came to preach another word: “The child which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  This is not the law, but the Gospel. 

“His people” means you.  Jesus Christ made you His own when He gave His promise to you, which He first did in Baptism.  And God never breaks His promises–that's His track record. So this is not a plan for you to follow, but the unbreakable promise of the One who came to forgive your sin. By faith in that promise, you are saved.

So go ahead and make your resolutions for the New Year–but remember that God has a way of dashing our plans to pieces.  Salvation is not a matter of what you do, it is a matter of what has been done for you in Jesus Christ.

Christ’s grace and peace to you in this new year,

Pastor Raleigh


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