January is a time when the word resolve gets thrown around a lot. We resolve to do better. To be healthier, less stressed out, smarter about our money, more consistent with our Bible reading. And then life hits. And, many times, our resolve crumbles.
So when I hear Barnabas (one of my favorite New Testament characters) encourage the church at Antioch to remain true to the Lord with resolute heart in Acts 11:23, my ears perk up.
I dig a little deeper and learn that this word “resolute” implies both intention and a plan.
Barnabas doesn’t pat these new believers on the back, wish them well and leave them to their own devices. That might fulfill the intention part, but this good man—full of the Holy Spirit and faith, knows that intention alone is not enough.
Intention is not enough.
Wanting to remain true to the Lord (even really, really wanting it) is not enough.
These disciples need a plan.
So Barnabas sets out in search of Saul and together they come back with a plan. They meet with the church, with these new believers and the other disciples too—the ones who had fled persecution and spoken the good news of Jesus and ended up with an exploding church on their hands. They meet. And they teach.
Not once. Not for six weeks. For a whole year.
Verse 26 tells us that they taught a considerable number of people. It is worth noting that we don’t know whether every single convert in Antioch was among that considerable number.
Because even the best plan won’t work without intention. Without purpose.
For their faith to survive, for their hearts to remain true to the Lord, the new believers at Antioch needed both.
So do we.
This year, let’s pursue Jesus with resolute hearts.
Let’s embrace both the intention and the plan.
Let’s want to become more and more transformed into the image of Christ. Let’s really, really want it.
And let’s put ourselves in places, in relationships, where teaching and learning and honesty and challenge and grace and transformation can happen.