Monday, December 29, 2008

What sort of New Year’s Resolution should a Christian make?

"The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3000 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 reality, there is no difference between December 31st and January 1st. Nothing mystical occurs at midnight on December 31st. The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. However, if a Christian determines to make a New Year’s resolution, what kind of resolution should he or she make?

Common New Year’s resolutions are: to quit smoking, to stop drinking, to manage money better, and 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, 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.” The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions, even among Christians, are in relation to physical things. This should not be.

Many Christians make New Year’s resolutions to pray more, to read the Bible every day, and to attend church more regularly. These are fantastic 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. Resolving to start or stop doing a certain activity has no value unless you have the proper motivation for stopping or starting that activity. For example, why do you want to read the Bible every day? Is it to honor God and grow spiritually, or is it because you have just heard that it is a good thing to do? Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to honor God with your body, or is it for vanity, to honor yourself?

Philippians 4:13 tells us, “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 has 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, we will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolution.

So, what sort of New Year’s resolution should a Christian make? Here are some suggestions: (1) Pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) in regards to what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; (2) Pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; (3) Rely on God’s strength to help you; (4) Find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; (5) Don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead allow them to motivate you further; (6) Don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6, “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.”

(the above is from


satire and theology said...

Well, I really do not have resolutions. But with God's help I have resolve to pass my PhD and look for work.

Excellent comments on my latest, from you, Jeff.

Jeff said...

Thanks, Russ.

Farrah said...

I can't think of any time I've made New Year's Resolutions, although I have no problem with others doing it.

At an online homeschool group some gals are committing to reading the bible in a year and are doing it as a group with accountability. I found this interesting. It was a dream of mine to read it through, and praise God that happened in 2008. But I can't imagine going by some sort of schedule. That seems so unspiritual to me. I read it at my own pace. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I often stop in the middle of a chapter when it feels like the right time, and my bible reading has been much more fulfilling the past couple years than earlier when I did it out of duty and read a specific amount each day (such as a chapter). I look forward to reading, learning from the Lord and don't worry about how much I read.

Jeff said...


That's great that your Bible reading has been more fulfilling lately.

I've been thinking about possibly starting to do my blog posts on one chapter of the Bible at a time, adding comments (like doing my own commentary) by doing research, cross-references, my own homiletics study on the chapter (which I was taught to do when I was a Discussion Leader in BSF), etc. That way, I can do a Bible study at the same time that I'm preparing my blog article.