As we stand on the threshold of another New Year, with all of our planned activities building up to a spectacular climax at midnight on December 31st officially ending yet another year, around the world there will be festive sounds of celebration and of course the traditional Scottish born tune “auld lang syne “. The popular New Years song also known in English as “times gone by” but no matter how translated it is about remembering friends, family, and loved ones from our past and not letting them be forgotten, interestingly enough it actually begins with a question “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? – Should old acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?” Have you forgotten anyone, perhaps gotten too busy for them?
The brink of a New Year is a good time for reassessment, a time to reflect and think about what the past year has brought and what the New Year could bring. Every January, hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of people begin their year with a New Year resolution. Many people generally look at the New Year as an opportunity for a fresh beginning, to kind of start over, to overcome a habit, for some it may be to do a better job of something they may see as important that needs improvement. Some common New Year’s resolutions are commitments to quit smoking, to stop drinking, to manage money more wisely, and to spend more time with family. By far, the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, in conjunction with exercising more and eating healthier. These are all good goals to set. However, instructs us to keep exercise in perspective: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions, even among Christians, are in relation to physical things.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. – James 4:13-17
Please don’t get me wrong, there are many Christians who make New Year’s resolutions to pray more, to read the Bible every day, and to attend church more regularly. These are wonderful goals. However, these New Year’s resolutions fail just as often as the non-spiritual resolutions, because there is no power in a New Year’s resolution. It is a time to stop and analyze, to take stock of our priorities, values, pursuits, and goals. Resolving to start or stop doing a certain activity has no value unless you are centered and have the proper motivation for stopping or starting that activity.
If we want to be successful with any New Year’s resolution, we must seek God’s will. Our plans may or may not be God’s plans. We need to ask questions like “why do I want to read the Bible every day?” Is it to honor God and grow spiritually, or is it because you have heard it is a good thing to do? “Who am I, what am I doing with the stewardship God has given me?” Why do I want to lose weight? Is it to honor God with your body, or is it merely for vanity, to honor yourself? After all, according to the Word of God, all of life is a stewardship–a stewardship of our time, talents, treasures, and God’s truth. By his strength we might lose weight, eat better, or become better stewards of our finances. What does God want for your life? When he convicts, he also equips you to follow through with the plan. In other words, since God’s plan and our stewardships revolve around and through the life of His Son, Jesus Christ, we need to each ask “How well am I responding to the Savior and the spiritual life that He has given me?” When we know we are following God’s plan, then we have more strength to stick to it, allowing him to work well beyond our normal January quitting date. Paul says in Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Life is not always easy. Following through on simple commitments can even be difficult when bombarded by every day affairs. In addition, the attacks of the evil one will challenge us at every turn. That is exactly why Paul tells us in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” John 15:5 declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If God is the center of your New Year’s resolution, it will have greater chance for success, depending on your commitment to it. If it is God’s will for something to be fulfilled, He will enable you to fulfill it. If a resolution is not God honoring and/or is not in agreement in God’s Word, you will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolution.
Here are a few resolutions for your consideration.
Pursue God, and pray David’s prayer every morning for the next year.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.- Psalm 51:10-11
Let’s resolve to give our attitudes to the Lord. Commit to making a difference at home, in the workplace, the marketplace, on the roads, and even at church.
This passage could be a good resolution:
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”- Colossians 3:14-15
Lastly the late English Churchman and Historian Thomas Fuller wrote “Seek Him and His wonderful plan for your life. The two of you will make a great team, united in your determination to fulfill your destiny. A strong will, a settled purpose, an invincible determination can accomplish almost anything”
Now my friends, “I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” – Acts 20:32