I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, so this is not that – this quote from 2nd Peter (below) just happens to be one of my favorite passages of scripture.
I always have room to grow in this life. When I consider my shortcomings, I’m not condemned by them. As a Christian, I’m free to consider them because my own sense of worthiness and righteousness, while based on God’s standard, isn’t earned by my own abilities to do well or be good, but on Christ’s. I judge myself freely. When I see faults in others, I come back to seeing my own faults, free and clear of guilt, deflection, excuses and denial, I can be honest with myself because I am in Christ, secure in my relationship with my heavenly father.
But beyond my shortcomings, I also have the Spirit in me who molds my thinking, my attitude, my desires to be like His. My shortcomings — my sins – aren’t what drives my relationship with God. Overcoming them is not my motivation (daily or yearly). My motivation is in the positive – to be like Christ in thought and deed. I get a real kick out of the attitude that says “be kind to other people – have joy, peace, patience, self-control, and above all put on selfless love” (Galatians 5:22-23).
At any given moment, someone might examine me and see more or less of Christ in me. I’m okay with this – I have no claim to personal, fleshly perfection. But I hope and aspire to be like Him while in this world, and I can judge myself objectively and freely, having no need for fleshly righteousness. I am growing within His righteousness, and it is producing fruit in me, in my thoughts and reasoning, which flow out into actions that benefit others. In learning about His free grace and growing in that, I’m free of the trap of self-righteousness, able to move beyond that snare, and able to think of others for their benefit. And being free – growing in that – I see my heart and mind desiring more to “love God and my neighbor”. I’m understanding more clearly that if I love God, it means loving my neighbor also, and that the two go hand-in-hand.
Lastly, I want to say I’m so encouraged by my brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I am fortunate to know. So many of you have blessed me in ways you may not be aware of. I see some struggle with this world and the flesh in different ways, yet you are always on top, you always win. In Him, you can’t lose, you are more than conquerors. Thank you all for sharing yourselves with me and my family. Thank you for being kind to me and showing me Christ’s love, even when it may have looked like I wasn’t receiving it, or when I was difficult to be around. Thank you for walking in Christ with me in this world.
“His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble.” (2 Peter 1:3–10 HCSB)