The New Year's List Devotional

Read This: "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. . . . Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:15, 17)

Think: Are you a gamer? Do you Wii? XBox? Head shots? Angry Birds? If you're reading this on a computer screen, odds are you've at least dabbled and you've likely resolved either to a) spend less time playing in the new year or b) finally beat that game that's been kicking your tail.

Here's one thing that makes gaming so addictive: You get to start over. Every time. Whether you've played the level once or repeatedly, you start again and again with a clean slate. Maybe this time you'll be perfect.

It's that performance impulse that drives our New Year's list-making. "Yeah, I know I did not achieve the ideal last year. I was not the person I wanted to be morally or fiscally or socially or spiritually. But I'm about to start a new level. Maybe this time will be different. Maybe I'll be perfect."

Here's the first problem: God doesn't call us to fine-tune ourselves into better and better examples of the human machine, even the Christian human machine.

Second: If we are in Christ, He says he's already fixed us. "The new is here!" The game's been won. All the levels have been beat. Instead of trying to life-hack ourselves into perfection, God calls us to live in the new us he has already made.

It's not about the lists; Paul loved making lists of how Christ-changed people live. (See Colossians 3:1-17 if you're still looking for list ideas.) What it's about is power and focus: You already have God's power; what will you focus it on this year? Who will you "just live" for?

Ask: If you removed every item on your resolutions list related to self-improvement, what would be left? Are there unselfish reasons to work out, eat better, or read more? What would a list of resolutions focused entirely on serving Christ and others have on it? Is it possible to make a list of resolutions without becoming overly self-focused? Why or why not?

Pray: Ask God to help you to live as the new creation he is making you into this year. Ask him to help you to grow in your resolve to live for the "one who died for you and was raised again." Ask him to help you make this year less about serving yourself—even by making yourself a "better you."