January 20, 2009
Let Go of Legalism and Embrace Grace
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14 (NIV)
New Year's resolutions: we all make them and most of us fail or give up on them, usually by the end of February. I believe the reason we fail or give up on these resolutions is because we don't give ourselves any grace to slip. We set goals with a pass/fail mentality. We become so focused on the goal "I am going to ," determined not to fail, that the obsession sets up the failure. We become so legalistically determined to meet the goal we forget about giving ourselves grace as we strive towards it.
So I say this year let's let go of the old tradition of pass/fail legalistic-minded resolutions, and embrace grace in setting God-driven, Spirit-inspired goals for 2009.
How do we that? First, we need to seek God in setting the goals. Many times we set goals that are not intended for us. We are made in the image of God and the goals we set should be made with the purpose of becoming like Him. Ask God what you can do in 2009 to become more like Him. Perhaps it is spending more time in His Word, or praying for others. Maybe, like me, you forget your body is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and you don't treat it as the temple that it is. Perhaps God wants you to be more evangelism or mission minded in 2009.
Second, go to God's Word for support for your goal. Websites like Crosswalk.com and Biblegateway.com are excellent resources for researching scriptures on specific topics. Record the scriptures along with your corresponding goal in a spiral index card notebook. This notebook will be your quick scripture support when you need it, and it is small enough for your purse.
Third, enlist accountability. This doesn't necessarily mean announce your goals to your entire Sunday School class or put them on the class prayer list, unless God tells you to. These goals have been prayed over and inspired by God. Ask God to lead you to those who will pray for you, as well as hold you accountable to your goal. Keep in mind that God might lead you to someone other than your best girlfriends. Allow Him to surprise you and work in new ways in your life.
Fourth, embrace grace. Give yourself a break if you slip back a bit. Keep your eyes on the big picture, the end goal of becoming more like Christ. Remember God inspired your goals. When He calls you to do something, He supplies all you need to accomplish it, even grace. Showing yourself grace does not mean you are giving yourself permission to continue to slip. It means that if you slip, you admit it, step up the prayer, and keep pressing forward.
Lastly, set a monthly or quarterly check point with your accountability partner(s) and allow for the Holy Spirit to work in tweaking the goal. Setting long-term goals is difficult for me. If I tell myself that I only have to make it until next month, I am more likely not to slip.
Sounds so easy doesn't it? Probably not. Obtainable? Most definitely. Ready, get set, pray. Start praying today. He has amazing things waiting ahead in 2009.
Dear Lord, thank you for the hope of a New Year. Will You help me to set the goals that You would have me set? I want to become more like You in 2009. I know this is Your plan for me. Thank You in advance for supplying all my needs to meet the goals You will lead me to accomplish. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Living Free: Experiencing Life as it was Meant to Be message on CD by Wendy Pope
Visit Wendy’s blog to find out what goals God has inspired her to set.
Write down or print out the steps listed in today's devotion. Commit to following the steps. In a journal record the amazing things God does in and through you in 2009.
Is setting goals hard for me? Why or why not?
What are my thoughts about 2009?
Ephesians 3:20, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." (NIV)
2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love, and of self-discipline." (NIV)
© 2009 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Tuesday, 20 January 2009.