According to Gotquestions.org “the practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning.”
In our family, we celebrated the new year with tightly held-to traditions. The Christmas tree and all decorations must be taken down before the New Year or we might have “bad luck.” We ate greens and black-eyed peas for prosperity on New Year’s Day. We would make a list of things that we wanted to change or do differently/better in the new year. Sound familiar? For years I made this New Year’s Resolution list.
What was your tradition? Did you make a list? Do you still make a list? I know one thing; it changes over the years, does it not?
As a young mom I might’ve recorded that I want to spend more quality time with my children. As a mom of teens, my goal might be more time away from them! (Just kidding, girls)
This past Sunday, a beautiful woman from our church asked me how my Christmas had been and if I had made any New Year Resolutions. I paused. I had not. I have not in years. For a moment I thought, “Should I come up with something wise and wonderful to say that I want to change in the new year?” Then, the truth came out and I said, “I am just working on all the things that need to change all the time.” (or something like that)
Years ago, I tired of making resolutions that I never fully followed through on. After all, I really need to work on those things daily, not just at the beginning of a new year, right?
How does God feel about our tradition of New Year’s resolutions? The Bible really does not speak against it or for it. Our resolutions are usually positive things that God would want for us, are they not? Most of you reading this probably would list something like this: Read the Bible more, become more active at church, exercise more, lose a few pounds, eat healthier, be kinder, spend quality time with family, stay better in touch with friends/family, learn patience, control temper, and so on. Pretty common list, I imagine. These are all things that could be pleasing to God. However, the place where we must check ourselves is in our motivation to do these things. Is our motive to honor God with these changes? Do we want to read the Bible more to feel better about ourselves or to check it off a religious to-do list or is it out of a desire to know Him better? What about eating healthier and exercising more? God wants us to take care of our bodies and be healthy, but if our motivation is in any way for our vanity or pride, then He is not pleased with this. If we desire to be healthy so that we can serve Him better and be a more useful instrument to Him, then He is pleased and will help us as we strive for this goal.
1 Timothy 4:8 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.”
As we hold on to the promise of this life to come, a “new year” can be useful in helping us to refocus on what really matters. Let’s use this time of New Year’s reflection to evaluate if God is at the center of our lives as He should be. Perhaps our resolution can be to focus more regularly, in fact daily, on those things that we need to change, praying for the Holy Spirit to work on us from the inside out.
Gotquestions.org lists some resolutions that fit with God’s desires for us. Here are their suggestions:
- Pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) in regards to what resolutions, if any, He would have you make;
- Pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you;
- Rely on God’s strength to help you;
- Find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you;
- Don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further;
- Don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”
God desires good for us. He wants us to succeed and will help us succeed when our goal is to honor Him and to love Him more. To begin the new year, Pastor Tom has asked us to read through Psalm 119. Read or re-read this Psalm with me and let’s start this New Year off with an awesome, God-glorifying kind of BANG!
By Claire Christa