We are a couple weeks into the new year and undoubtedly for many, the strong resolutions made in late 2012 are already turning into hopeful wishes for 2013. Whether it be the new workout routine, better time management, or healthier eating habits, our human zeal wanes without constant provocation and motivation from others. But even with incentive, our follow-through is often lacking the consistency we desire.
Yet among all of the resolutions we could possibly make for the new year, one will always rise above the rest because it has the guarantee of God's might helping us to follow through. It's a resolution I set my heart to make not just every year, but every day - to grow in the knowledge of Jesus.
Just as we can't instantly know all there is to know about our spouse, close friends, or co-workers the moment we meet them, we can't have immediate depth in our relationship with Jesus the instant we give our lives to Him. At the moment of our repentance and salvation, we are merely introduced to Him by the Holy Spirit as Lord of all and our brother in humanity, and daily we hear His invitation to spend the rest of our lives searching Him out and actually growing in a real friendship with Him.
As Jesus Himself and others say in the scriptures:
"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
(John 17:3 ESV)
"that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own."
(Philippians 3:10-12 ESV)
"Mary...sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. Jesus said... "One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."
(Luke 10:39,42 ESV)
"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth... He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you."
(John 16:13-14 ESV)
Knowing Jesus for who He is in truth is our greatest pleasure and greatest reward as a Christian. The gift of salvation is the gift of self-forgetful, abounding joy fueled by a real friendship with Jesus. Growing in this friendship is immensely practical. In the same way we grow in a friendship with others, we simply do our part with the Lord Jesus - we give ourselves regularly to talking with Him about His life and His words, making quality decisions to deny ourselves daily, and setting our heart to obey Him in secret. If we put ourselves before the bonfire of His story, our cold hearts will melt over time and He will become a precious treasure to us. The Holy Spirit will ensure that our feast matches and exceeds the depth of our hunger to know Him, and we will be richly satisfied with all that He is.
As we press on to know Him as Paul wrote to the Philippians, we must remember that we are not earning His favor as we pray and read His story in the Gospels. There is a vast difference between earning His favor and growing a friendship. If we find ourselves discouraged by where things are in that friendship, we must make sure the underlying reason for that discouragement is a desire for more and not condemnation. Jesus wants us to know Him deeply, not condemn us for how little Bible and prayer we've done this month.
As 2013 begins, may our resolution to know Jesus more deeply be our daily commitment, and may His zeal and desire (John 17:24) be our help along the way.