Proverbs 9Ten

Holiness Begins in the Heart

We need to talk about the elephant in the room.

I know very well that some of you are struggling. You decided on December 31st that you’d get fitter, smarter or nicer for the new year. But now, in February, you’re all out of motivation for these resolutions.

For Christians, we usually want to become “holier”. We might buy a new devotion, start a new Bible reading plan, find a new church or volunteer in a new ministry. As the year goes on, these initiatives may become less attractive, less enjoyable, less inspiring. We may give up, hoping God will give us a gold star for trying.

I’m wondering whether these efforts to be holy were even resolutions in the first place. A resolution is defined as a decision or something determined. This definition doesn’t involve action, yet most of us are preoccupied with outworking our resolutions within the first few months of the year, leading to a spiritual burn out. It becomes overwhelming trying to maintain all this holiness.

Daniel is an admirable person in the Bible when it comes to making resolutions. He’d been taken captive along with three of his friends for service in the Babylonian empire. Daniel was to be educated in areas such as language and literature, and the bonus was that all the men being trained got to have the best food and wine in the palace. Sounds like a good deal!

“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” Daniel 1:8 (emphasis mine)

Daniel’s first priority was God. We read his popular stories about his friends in the furnace and him in the lion’s den, but it’s at the beginning of the book that we see he decided in his heart not to defile himself. In the midst of exile and being pulled into a Babylonian identity, Daniel’s commitment in his heart to worship God only was the standard by which he acted in this foreign empire.

For us, trying to become holy doesn’t start with an app or a signup sheet. It begins in the quiet of our home when it’s just you and God. When you focus on who God is and place your desires in him, you’re resolving in your heart to holiness. It’s a decision, that comes with salvation, though we often forget it. Before you forsake your resolutions, talk to God about it first. Resolve to seek his kingdom first, and the action will follow (Matthew 6:33).

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