2. Read at least 20 fiction books (along with many more non-fiction books)
3. Lose weight (cliche, but there it is)
4. Make daily devotions with my wife more regular
5. Write every day (if only just one paragraph)
Tomorrow, countless people will make New Years resolutions (NYRs) just like these. And in two weeks to two months, many of these same people will break their long thought-out resolutions. I like resolutions. This fondness is despite my many failures to keep the resolutions I have made in the past. I like the intentionality and discipline that must go into making and keeping them. Resolutions at the start of a new year are basically just big goals that (at least for me) are usually geared toward an improvement in mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health; personally and relationally.
Postmodernism seemingly calls for carefree and even reckless lifestyles as many in our day are not resolved to do anything except bash anyone who would disapprove of said lifestyles. I have even heard some Christians say recently that it is silly and frivolous to make these resolutions because they are so easily broken and are almost doomed to fail. This is ironic since the Christian life is one of continual growth, repentance, and conforming of image (Rom 8:29).
Christians of all people should be continually resolved to change who they are to align with who Christ is. These same people have said that New Years resolutions are no more than unrealistic expectations. Pessimism at its peak.
However, just because you have made and broken resolutions in the past, I want to push you to make them again. Resolutions are good for mind, body, and soul. Though few will need convincing to make NYRs, I want to offer a few reasons it is wise to make them.
Firstly, resolutions cause you to examine your life. This is pertinent to everyone, but especially to Christians who are commanded to take such stock of their lives and faith. In order to make my own list, I had to reflect on my life as it happened in 2013 and also take stock of my life on December 31, 2013. What am I doing that I need to stop? What am I not doing that I need to start? How can I increase my joy in God? How can I increase others’ joy in God? These are some of the basic questions I asked myself in order to come up with my NYRs.
It was very healthy and helpful to take a step back and examine and evaluate my life to date. In the hustle and bustle of life it is easy to lose sight of the detriment you may be doing to your body, mind, soul, and family. Resolutions help us to get real.
Secondly, resolutions cause you to think big. This is something more of us need, especially Christians. Warning against NYRs may come with good intentions, but what they often do is crush many noble and holy ambitions. Many believe that the reason so many NYRs fail is that they are so lofty and unrealistic. This may be the case. But I believe another problem is the culprit.
The blame for NYR failures is not too much confidence, but too little. If I want to lose 50 lbs to the point that I resolve to do so, then I must think very big. I must plan ahead and work very hard. And I will need help. Help from God, family, and friends. But if I get too “real” and stop believing in something as big and seemingly unbelievable as losing that much weight, I will at best lose a few pounds and possibly even gain a few before 2014 is over. I know this to be true; scales don’t lie.
Resolutions cause us to think big. And this is vital to our faith. If your faith is weak and you continually submit to sinful passions, it may be that your view of God is too small. To be a Christian is to do things on a large scale. It takes big thinking and believing to wrap your mind and heart around a holy God whose mission is to save his enemies through the death of his Son. We must think big thoughts in order to think about God being most glorified in the joy of his redeemed enemies. Make resolutions this year if for nothing more than to think bigger thoughts and believe on a bigger scale. It takes this kind of humble pondering to glorify God with your mind.
Thirdly, resolutions call for discipline. Lazy Christians are walking contradictions. Making resolutions causes those of us who are serious about them to count the cost. It will take hard work to read through the entire Bible. As it will take a lot of work to lose substantial weight. It will require discipline and diligence to follow through on NYRs. However, it is very healthy and biblical to be both disciplined and diligent. If these two qualities are adopted and developed, they will serve you in every area of your life. Jonathan Edwards was truly a faithful and disciplined man and Christian. This is evidenced from any biography on him as well as in his writings, including his Resolutions. NYRs have the potential to create lifelong qualities and lifestyles. And they can have a truly historic impact on the Kingdom of God.
I challenge you to make a few NYRs for your health, your family, and your faith. NYRs can be a sanctifying grace that will greatly increase your joy in God. Take them seriously. Make them honestly. And by grace, keep them.
I want to close with a few NYR suggestions for your consideration. Start 2014 with reflection, big thoughts, and disciplined intentions.
1. Resolve to do something relating to your faith that your struggled with in 2013.: Read more. Pray more. Fellowship with believers more. Attend church more. Host Bible studies. Evangelize more. Go on a mission trip.
2. Resolve to do something relating to your health.: Lose weight. Gain weight. Eat healthier. Exercise more. Glorify God in your body. This is a Western problem and predominantly an American problem, but most of us struggle with overindulgence in food.
3. Resolve to do something relating to your family: Improve your relationships. Communicate better with your spouse, child, parent, sibling, friend. Spend more time with your grandparents. Love harder. Listen better.