I haven’t made New Year resolutions in several years.
Even as I incline towards being anti-resolutions until I find reason to change my mind, I still have many friends who make their annual resolutions. I respect our differences on the matter, but the cynic in me still thinks resolutions are created to fail.
With that in mind, I nonetheless think that with proper understanding of what making a resolution entails, here are some thoughts on how to make New Year resolutions wisely, for those who make them.
WHAT ARE WE RESOLVING, EXACTLY?
Loosely described, most would define this as a tradition in which a person decides to change an undesired trait or behaviour, to accomplish a personal goal in order to improve their life. This is why some common New Year’s resolutions include improving health, fitness, and being more financially prudent, among other things.
While I readily agree with the gist of this definition, I think a “resolution” can be more clearly defined – in the Bible, a “resolve” is a desire for God to do something in and through us (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
Even as we resolve to live responsible lives, we do so knowing that this is only possible through God’s empowering.
In this light, we know that God is already working in us – He has always done so, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil 2:13, Hebrews 13:21).
Even as we put in the effort to live responsible lives by the means of our New Year’s resolutions, we do so knowing that this is only possible through God’s empowering – every desire we have to do good comes from Him.
He establishes our hearts as we seek to do good work (2 Thessalonians 2:17), working in our hearts as we read His Word (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
RESOLVE FOR GOD’S GLORY
Paul reaffirms that the aim of all we do should exalt Christ, declaring that “with full courage now as always Christ will be honoured” (Philippians 1:20). This illustrates his desire to maintain his faithful witness to Christ in all circumstances, which still rings true for us today.
In this light, the making of our New Year resolutions is also a platform for us to display our faithful witness to Christ.
Just as Paul’s greatest aim is the eager expectation and hope that Christ will be honoured in body, likewise, we seek to live in a similar way – to honour Christ in all we do, New Year resolutions inclusive.
Each resolution is made and kept by God’s grace, through faith in His power and for His glory.
How then is Jesus glorified in what we resolve to do? This happens when He is honoured when God accomplishes His desires in and through us, which are displayed as good works in our lives (2 Thessalonians 2:12).
So for all you resolution-making folks, go ahead by all means – bearing in mind that as you do so, each resolution is the desire for God to work in us, made and kept by His grace, through faith in His power and for His glory.
NOT JUST WHAT WE DO, BUT ALSO WHO WE ARE
While you’re at it, it is important to recognise that amidst the resolution-making, a keen awareness of our spiritual identity is equally important – we make our resolutions bearing in mind all that we already are in Him – a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession (1 Peter 2:9).
Consequently, this should heighten our awareness to what we strive to do – as people who already have the love of Christ, we should desire to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith.
And in being rooted and grounded in love, we may have strength to comprehend and to know the love of Christ, and be filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19).
This means different things for every individual, but making this point brings to mind Bible-reading or going to Church in particular. As anyone who has been a Christian for long enough will attest, these are important practices that help us grow in faith and the knowledge of God.
In the midst of making your New Year resolutions, don’t forget to seek to grow deeper in appreciation of what you already have in Jesus and His Gospel.
Yet, if we know that we already are God’s chosen people, we shouldn’t be bogged down by personal guilt if we occasionally slip up in these areas.
The conscious effort to keep to these priorities is important, but so is the recognition that God sees our hearts. Observing these practices for their own sake risks turning us into legalistic rule-keepers – it bears remembering that we are saved by faith alone, through God’s grace alone – Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that our salvation results not from our own doing; it is the gift of God.
In the midst of making your New Year resolutions, may you not forget to seek to grow deeper in appreciation of what you already have in Jesus and His Gospel – if I return to resolution-making someday, these are pointers I’ll keep in mind too.
If you’re reading this and have not been acquainted with what it means to experience Jesus’ love as explained in His Word, the Bible – why not seek to find out more in the coming year?