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Being people of RESOLVE

Before resolutions, pray for resolve.

“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every RESOLVE for good and every work of faith by his power…”
– 2 Thessalonians 1:11 (ESV)

By the very nature of claiming Christ as Savior and Lord, affiliating one’s self as a follower of Jesus, a Christian – a believer has already connected and committed themselves to a life of pursuit and perseverance, adherence born of adoration. Our word has been given to the Living Word, and to keep that word we need not make resolutions so much as pray fervently for God-given resolve to keep (and grow in) what we’ve already covenanted.

re · solve
a firm determination to do something:
“she received information that strengthened her resolve”
synonyms: decision · resolution · commitment

At the turnover of the year, my wife Kathryn and I revisited the X-Men films featuring Wolverine (in light of the last film for Hugh Jackman’s character in the 2017 film Logan). Even deeper than the metaphors mutants might mirror, watching them together reveals that the recurring conflict through 9 movies is really the problem of pain.

Pain is at the root of every villain AND troubled hero in the series of movies: antagonists lash out in either unthinking or strategized vengeance, dividing or destroying others out of their pain, while protagonists self-medicate, give up, check out, lose faith, etc. The wizened character of the series, Professor Xavier, typically provides the film’s clarion call to friend, foe, and stranger alike… and the answer is, invariably, a bittersweet perseverance in one’s resolve: the necessity to hold the line for what’s right, and to maintain hope against what seems insurmountable, no matter the outcome… until our time on this earth inevitably comes to an end (and before the series is done, even the Professor himself needs to be reminded of this by one of his students.)

It’s easy to claim affiliation, make a resolution, or give one’s word when life’s seas are placid and our goals match our present passion. It gets harder, yet surmountable, to self-discipline when our only enemy is apathy or laziness. The real difficulty is what we do when presented with pain, from both external AND internal sources. Resolve is what we demonstrate even when our determination runs contrary to our flesh. Yet we live in a culture that says it’s okay to quit “if our heart isn’t in it”… that covenants, commitments, resolutions and one’s word given are all secondary to our feelings, our emotional health, and being “true to self”. There is little impetus to maintain our resolve in spite of ourselves. Some translations of the Bible verse above even use the term “desire” instead of “resolve” in 2 Thessalonians, which in modern parlance becomes a trap. We think “I don’t desire (feel) it, so something’s wrong with me”. But desire and resolve meet in meaning here because in this context desire = our good intentions, godly designs, and good purposes. It is not wholly apart from our emotions, but it is not contingent on them.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Obviously this kind of resolve doesn’t come naturally, or we wouldn’t be shown in scripture that we must pray for it, and pray for others to persist in it, that we may be “worthy of God’s calling”. So as self-professed followers of Christ marching into a new year together, wisdom would suggest three questions:
  1. What have you uniquely resolved to do (your word given) that you need to strive for and maintain?

  2. What does your claim to be a Christian resolve (determine) that you need to acknowledge, turn toward, and strive for?

  3. Whom can you pray for, that God might fulfill every resolve they have made, or should make, as followers of Christ?

2 Thessalonians finishes the thought by taking the attention off ourselves, and ultimately primary attention off those we pray for “…so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

May we demonstrate such God-given resolve in 2018, for his glory.