Tuesday, June 21, 2016
by Barbara Buzzard
The newest virtues of tolerance, acceptance and non-judging have taken precedence over many of the “older” ones. But whatever happened to the virtue of “resolve,” the very substance of our more popular resolutions (which are comically regarded as short-lived)? Is this an outdated code of conduct? I am mindful of the hymn in which God is asked to “save us from weak resignation.”
Resolve gets pretty poor press these days, but think about it. Without it, frankly, we are doomed. Doomed to non-obedience, doomed to actions that seem convenient or passable but through the looking glass of Scripture appear less than good. Resolutions are declarations of intent. A good example is Ps. 119:59: “I pondered the direction of my life and I turned to follow your statutes.”
Resolve has much to do with reality. Resolve recognizes our sinful nature in combination with our very sinful society and determines not to become a part of what would be biblically unacceptable. Lying, for example, while certainly not new, has undergone a kind of acceptance as not being a big deal. We have come almost to expect it in our politicians and sales persons. And yet, in God’s eyes it is so serious that we are not even to spend time with liars. The one who will be allowed to stand in His Holy Place will be one who never tells lies. But in today’s culture, unless we are firmly committed to this endeavor, we will find ourselves at risk.
Those calendar-driven resolutions have a miserable rate of failure attached to them. Resolutions (i.e. resolve) due to conviction are much more to be trusted IF we have asked for the power and strength of God to enable us to perform them. What a great guide is 2 Cor. 5:9 – “Therefore we make it our aim…to be well pleasing to Him.” And Ps. 119 is filled with personal resolutions, concerted efforts to obey. While this sort of resolve will not make the headlines, it just might affect our inclusion in The Book of Life.
Dan. 1:8 also is a great example for us. It exemplifies how inner conviction leads to resolve which leads to action. Daniel resolutely made his mind up not to defile himself with the king’s food. Mindset matters. A resolve to do the right thing allows one to check one’s self; it is a discipline that can be measured. And perhaps it allows us to take inventory of some of the corners of our lives.
Let us beware the new virtues and also the loss of the older ones. The danger of being carried away by the winds of modernity and the enticing call of a degenerating culture is very real. I do understand that the word “resolve” is not one in popular usage but just as I finish this a letter was sent to me with this: “The entire world looks to you, [America] waiting and praying to see what America resolves on the present unprecedented challenges the world faces today.” And the headline reads: “Vatican Cardinal to Americans: ‘In Your Nation, God Is Being Eroded, Eclipsed, Liquidated.’
And so not only is this a serious personal issue; it is a serious national one as well. There are some tough times for Christians ahead. Resolve is part of preparation.