It’s this time of the year. We look back, we look within, we look forward and we set goals for ourselves. We make resolutions. We sincerely want to keep them most of the time. And we fail to do so most of the time. This is true even of Christians setting spiritual goals for themselves every year like abiding to a Bible reading plan or studying deeper a specific area of doctrine. 

So, the question is: should Christians keep making new year resolutions and try to keep them? Is there a point in making a list of self-determined objectives aimed at bettering one’s life? 

I would like to argue that yes, Christians should make resolutions. We see the people of God in the Bible and throughout church history make commitments. And we can see that they don’t make them only at the beginning of every year but every time they feel compelled to.

The start of a new year is a great time to ponder and pledge, but it shouldn’t be the only time. Resolutions ought to be made all year long, and even all lifelong for us as disciples of Christ. 

However, here are a few questions to challenge how these commitments are usually made and to help ensure that we do keep them:

1-   What is the Point? 

As Jesus explained the reason why He did what He did in His ministry, He summed it up by saying “…I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:30)

Jesus was focused on pleasing and honoring God. 

Do I make my resolutions with the same focus on God’s glory and honor? Or do I focus more on what people will say of me or my own exaltation? Is my intent fixated on the “now” or on eternity with God (John 14:1-4; Rom 8:18-25; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 John 3:1-3)?

Our resolutions must align with God’s intent for our lives as Christians: our sanctification (1 Thes 4:3; 1 Pet 1:14-16). We must kill what prevents it, the deeds of the flesh and nurture what improves it (Rom 8:12-13; 13:13-14). 

We need to make commitments that lead us to pursue holiness,
not personal success. 

2-   What is the Push?   

God looks at why we do things, not only at the things we do. He fully knows our motivations (1 Sam 16:7). We thus must attach not only an ultimate intent to our resolutions but also an unambiguous heart motive. We might be motivated to lose weight or acquire knowledge by ego or peer pressure. Yet we must learn to slay any selfish desires and replace them with a stronger yearning to conform our life to Christ’s. His smile of favor ought to be the only approval we seek. 

Paul prays in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12… 

As we display steadfastness, Jesus gets the glory. 

3-   What is the Plan? 

What are the accompanying measures you think to implement to ensure you will achieve the goals you set? 

Scripture encourages us to make plans, but reminds us that these plans are always subject to God’s sovereign will (Prov 16:9; James 4:13-17). 

The Bible also invites us to seek advice in making those plans.  Proverbs 15:22 says “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.

Once counsel is received, you must for your own ideas as to how you are going to reach the set target. Having an accountability partner long the way is definitely wise not to be side-tracked or blind-sided.  

4-   What is the Power Source? 

For the believer, all resolutions are illumined, empowered and sustained by the Holy Spirit. 

We are to live out our Christian lives with fear and trembling, knowing that God is at work to fulfill that which we commit to do (Phil 2:12-13). 

We thus must totally depend on His work on our behalf through prayer. 

Jesus asked the disciples to commit to one hour of prayer on His behalf in the garden. As we know they failed miserably. And so do we, often. 

Jesus tells us that the way to maintain our resolution is by watching and praying.

We are to apply all necessary processes so not to fall into temptation and we are to pray continually as our best efforts to fulfill the former will always fall short. 

We need to pray for guidance, wisdom, and strength (James 1:5) when it comes to our walk in Christ. 

May the Lord grant us endurance in the race set before us.
May He give us milestone victories through accomplished goals.
May He help us delay gratification and quicken mortification of sin.
May He be glorified as we resolve to depend on Him prayerfully to keep our year-long and lifelong resolutions. 

Happy New Year 2023 everyone!

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