New Year’s resolutions. I have long wondered over the idea. One decides they will start the New Year healthily, then comes the New Year’s Day football game with chicken wings, ribs, fries, and all the munchies possible. To say nothing of the left-over Christmas cookies.
And the stress which sets in over public declarations, that seemed like a perfectly good idea to make sure one has accountability partners to keep one on track. Now we are sneaking that “one” cookie as we try to avoid their gaze. Add on the guilt of failure. Can’t say any of it was ever very appealing to me. I know myself far too well to set myself up for failure.
Why not start considering the Holy Spirit as our accountability partner and base any resolutions on progress, not perfection, with scripture as our guide? This year I want to start here: “Before you do anything, put your trust totally in God and not in yourself. Then every plan (resolution?) you make will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3 TPT).
Sounds better already, don’t you think? I know I will never meet the level of perfection my all too human pride demands of me here on earth; however, I can wake each day and commit my efforts to the Lord and do the very best I can. For specific goals, I can then turn to the source again.
Instead of focusing on all my past failed attempts, I can follow the example of Paul: “I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ had called me to fulfill and wants me to discover” (Philippians 3:12).
Wow! The energy that is infused in that declaration! I can get very excited about joining in the adventure Paul is outlining here. In context, I know that Paul has just spoken of his past perfect “righteousness” and forsaken it as nothing when compared to “…the delight of experiencing Jesus Christ as my Lord” (Philippians 3:7). This is an all-encompassing invitation. One I can apply to any area of my life as I commit my days to the Lord.
And how much more doable then, my pursuits will be in the here and now regardless of life’s rollercoaster ride? I consider James 4 one of the most practical chapters in the New Testament when it comes to examining my life and directing it. James speaks of the origin of most of our personal conflicts and quarrels as being our fight to have our own way of getting what we want. Good to remember, just in case we decide that forgiveness and peacemaking should be one of our resolutions.
Rather than making set-in-stone goals for white-knuckle resolutions, as far as work goes for instance, James 4 reminds us in verse 14 that “…you don’t have a clue what tomorrow may bring. For your fleeting life is but a warm breath of air that is visible in the cold only for a moment then vanishes! Instead, you should say, ‘our tomorrows are in the Lord’s hands and if he is willing we will live life to its fullest and do this or that.’ “
Knowing all our tomorrows are in God’s hands and that again, if we commit ALL our ways to him, he will make clear our paths, removes the stress of accomplishment to the greatest degree our humanity permits. All is ours for the asking. We just need to have our motives committed to the Lord. Of course, we note it was James 4:2 that also gave us the too often condensed: “you have not because you ask not,” leaving out that right motive caveat.
Our resolutions will only be as good as the foundation we base them on. Say you notice that you have been a bit inclined to run off at the mouth. Consider the reminder in Job 23:12 that says what goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them. Then the resolution will have a bit more meat to it. Perhaps just a prayer that you take a breath before speaking to consider if it is true, necessary, and kind.
When it comes to the mouth, other great scriptures guide us: “Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue” (Matthew 6:7). “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Psalm 120:2). From the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus himself tells us: “…but just let your words ring true. A simple yes or no will suffice…” (Matthew 5:36-37).
And so, I am brought back to my original popular resolution to lose weight. Maybe I could be more convinced by meditating on: “Don’t you know that your bodies belong to Christ as his body parts.” “Have you forgotten that your body is now the sacred temple of the Spirit of Holiness, who lives in you? You don’t belong to yourself any longer, for the gift of God, the Holy Spirit lives inside your sanctuary. You were God’s expensive purchase, paid for with tears of blood, so by all means, then, use your body to bring glory to God (1 Corinthians 6:15, 19-20).
Ah yes … I’ll have the salad!
In January we celebrate Epiphany and the coming of the Magi to visit Jesus. Like them, many of us feel we are on a long journey following a star that is sometimes bright and shining, sometimes completely hidden yet still guiding us towards Christ. 2022 taught us important lessons that will shape the coming year. We sense God wants to do something new in our lives and we want to follow in the right direction.
Join Lilly Lewin and Christine Sine online Saturday, January 7th 2023 from 9:30 am PT to 12:30pm PT as they help us reflect on the past year and take time to hope, dream and pray for the year ahead. We will engage in some fun practices like chalking the door and interact with each other in ways that strengthen our faith and draw us closer to God.