With a New Year just having passed, there are many people who were motivated and determined to pull off a New Year’s resolution to make some life changes. There were probably plans to lose weight, go to the gym, or to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Whatever the commitment, it was likely about self-improvement or maybe even to help other people.
The problem with making resolutions is that the motivation and commitment to keep these changes usually wanes after some time. Before we even realize it, we have forgotten the plan, given up and reverted back to our default mode. We have relapsed.
The word “relapse” is a term usually associated with addictions. However, according to Merriam Webster, relapse simply means “the act or an instance of backsliding”. Backsliding is a term used in the Old Testament by God, in relation to the children of Israel. The Israelites were considered “backsliders” because they would make a commitment to reverently worship God, but over time they would revert back to worshipping idols again. They would lapse morally and spiritually in their practice of honoring the one true God, despite their initial resolve to do better.
But this is where the beauty of the gospel message becomes real. When we fall down, we can simply get back up again. With relapse, there is recovery. Proverbs 24:16 says “For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again“. When we fall down, with Christ by our sides, we have the privilege of getting back up again and continuing with our walk. Not just once, but over and over again. It’s not about how many times that we fall, relapse or backslide. It’s about how many times we get back up and keep walking. Paul says that this is a race of endurance. Moreover, the race has already been won, we just have to finish!
“Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith”. Hebrew 12: 1-2
So, if you’re finding that you are struggling with your New Year’s resolution, whatever it may be, and you have fallen away from the path. Don’t stay there! Just get back up on the path, start again and keep walking. You don’t have to wait for another New Year to re-commit. Every day is a new day of opportunity. Every morning provides a new day with a new chance to make a new commitment to your resolution. Don’t give up! Relapse will happen. You may fall, but the promise is that you can recover with Christ and by daily renewal of your spirit.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
Get up, stand up and continue to take steps however small, in the direction towards your goal. This link “Never Give Up” shows the determination of one Olympic Sprinter, who despite a fall, rose again and with his father and our Heavenly Father close by, he was able to cross the finish line. Be inspired. With Christ by your side, you can do it too!
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:7).
“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 3: 13 – 14).