We are now a week into 2022. How’s it going with your New Year’s resolutions?

I don’t make resolutions anymore, and I’ll tell you why. Before coming to Greenwood, I pastored in Edgefield. Late one December, I got a call from a local reporter who was doing a story on New Year’s resolutions, and she wanted to know if I had made any. I said, “I haven’t really thought about it.” She said, “Is there anything you need to do better about next year?” I said, “I need to do better about flossing my teeth — I’m not very good about that. In fact, I need to take better care of my health in general. I exercise pretty regularly, but I don’t eat like I should, so I think I’m going to start taking vitamins.” That was the better part of our conversation.

To my way of thinking, my resolutions involved good stewardship of my health, which made them worthwhile. Then I read the story in the paper. One man said he resolved to be a better servant to his fellow human being. A woman said she wanted to work more for peace in the world. Suddenly flossing my teeth didn’t sound so noble or important. The woman who wrote the article called my resolutions “less than ethereal.”

Then began the stream of anonymous gifts of dental floss. I received waxed and unwaxed; unflavored, peppermint, spearmint and cinnamon. I found dental floss on my front porch, in my office, on the podium before Wednesday night Bible study. One day, I went to get gas. With someone watching, I opened the cover to the gas cap, and there was a package of dental floss. It took a while to explain.

I wish I could say that in spite of the good-natured ribbing, I triumphed in the end because I have flossed my teeth every day since I made that resolution. But I have not. (I hope my dentist is not reading this.) In fact, I cannot count the times I have resolved — quite sincerely — to develop some good habit or let go of a bad one, only to lose my resolve over time. Maybe it’s happened to you. You resolve to eat better, or exercise more, or be kinder to others, or go to church more faithfully; and for a while, you do. But in time ...

In Romans 7, the apostle Paul says that this is the human condition. Paul puts it this way: The sin which dwells in our flesh is stronger than our will and our good intentions. We say — in utter sincerity — that we will do what is good and avoid what is bad. But sooner or later, we do what is bad, or we fail to do what is good.

Fortunately, Paul’s treatise on human nature does not end there. In Romans 8, he tells us that in Christ, God offers us hope and transformation. What we cannot will, God wills for us. What we cannot do in our own strength, God does for us through the power of Christ. In short, Paul says, we are adopted by God. With unconditional love, God chooses to make us God’s own daughters and sons.

In “Leadership” magazine, editor Craig Brian Larson tells about his Aunt Ruby and Uncle Arnie, who tried unsuccessfully for five years to have a baby. So they adopted a beautiful baby boy. Then, as sometimes happens in these cases, Aunt Ruby turned up pregnant. She birthed another beautiful boy about the time the first child was a year old. When the boys were 8 and 9, Ruby and friend were watching the boys play. She said, “Now Ruby, which one is your child?” Aunt Ruby said, “Both of them.” The visitor persisted, “I mean which one was adopted?” Without hesitation, Aunt Ruby replied, “I’ve forgotten.”

It is incredible, but the gospel says: As Christ was God’s son by birthright, you are God’s child by adoption. And if someone were to ask God which of you was adopted, God would say, “I’ve forgotten.”

Tony Hopkins is the senior pastor of Greenwood First Baptist Church. He can be reached at tonyhopkins316@gmail.com.