Some folks won’t make resolutions because they think they are actually oaths. The Bible talks about being careful about taking oaths (Matthew 35:33-37)......so first off, let’s see what the difference is between an oath and a resolution. Oath: “a solemn appeal to a deity (God/Supreme Being), or to some revered person or thing, to witness one’s determination to speak the truth, to keep a promise, and being accountable to that diety to follow through.”
An example of an oath might be, “Lord, I swear, if You just do this or that for me....I’ll teach that Sunday School class.”
A New Years Resolution, on the other hand, is “a decision made at New Year.....a decision to do or stop doing something, made or announced at the New Year, which is traditionally considered a time for a fresh start.”
When we think about it, our God is the God of the “second chance,” just as when we come to Christ and are “born again” and get a fresh start and a clean slate.
The practice of making New Years Resolutions began thousands of years ago. There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. Yet, in reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January 1. Nothing out of the ordinary occurs at midnight on December 31.
The Bible does not speak specifically for or against the idea of New Year’s resolutions. So then, if a Christian decides to make a New Years Resolution, what kind of resolution should he or she make? Here are some resolutions that people commonly make.... commitments to quit smoking....to stop drinking....to manage money more wisely....maybe to spend more time with family. One of the most common New Years Resolutions is to try to lose weight, along with exercising more and eating more healthily.
These are all good goals to set. However, 1 Timothy 4:8 tells us to keep physical 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 Years Resolutions, even among Christians, are in relation to physical things. This should not be. A far better approach would be to make resolutions in your spiritual life and Christian walk. Quite a number of Christians make New Years Resolutions to pray more, to read the Bible every day, and to attend church more regularly. These are fantastic goals. However, these resolutions fail just as often as the non-spiritual resolutions, because there is no power in a New Years Resolution itself. Resolving to start or stop doing a certain activity has no value if you don’t have the proper motivation for stopping or starting that activity.
For example, what is your reason to want to read the Bible every day? Is it to honor God and grow spiritually, or is it because someone suggested that it is a good thing to do? Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to honor God with your body and keep it healthy, or is it for vanity, to make yourself look good? Phillpians 4:13 tells us, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” John 15:5 says, “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.”
As Christians, we need to make God the center of our New Years Resolutions, and then we will have a better chance for success, depending on your commitment to it. If it is God’s will for something to be fulfilled, He will enable us to fulfill it. If a resolution does not honor God or agree with God’s Word, we shouldn’t expect God’s help in fulfilling the resolution.
So, what sort of New Year’s resolution should a Christian make? Here are some suggestions: pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) ask Him what resolutions, if any He would have you make; pray for wisdom and guidance as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; rely on the Lord’s strength to help you persevere; find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you to succeed; don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further; don’t become proud or vain, but always give God the glory for success.
As I close I want to share these Bible verses: Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.....And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.”