Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Should We Resolve Not to Do Resolutions?

I have a confession to make. I do not remember ever having made a New Year's resolution. I think the reason is that I have always had a hard time taking them seriously. So the question comes, is this something we should do? And if we should do them, why do they always seem so futile? Is there any way to make them effective or should we just dump them?

I am convinced that the fundamental problem with New Year's resolutions is they are based on human will power. We feel if we grit our teeth and try harder, we will succeed.  But the problem is that we are sinners (Romans 3:23, Jeremiah 17:9, Isaiah 64:6). Even after we are saved, we are still people in process and have not arrived yet (Philippians 3:12-16; Romans 7:14-25; Galatians 5:16,17). The problem with making resolutions based on our human will power is that it is frequently not very good at following through with them. Now God does want to change us, but that change is based on His working in us to transform us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 2:10). Also, this change does not take place due to one-time resolutions, but through our responding to Him over time (Titus 2:11-14; 1 Timothy 4:7,8; Hebrew 5:14). It is pictured as an exercise regimen or an athletic contest. It is something that involves putting one foot in front of the other, not making one grand decision to be different. Also, it is a process done in the context of God's forgiveness (Romans 8:33,34; 5:1,2; Ephesians 1:7), which keeps us from being overwhelmed and discouraged  when we fail. Further, it changes us into who God wants us to be (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 4:24; 1 John 3:2), not necessarily who we would like to be.

Now Scripture does say it is appropriate to take stock of our life and ask God to show us what we may need to change (Psalms 139:23,24; 1 Corinthians 11:31,32; Hebrews 4:12,13). Ideally this should happen more often than once a year. Now the new year may be an appropriate time to take stock and ask what needs to change. But if it is to make any meaningful difference in our lives, this must be done with God's involvement and trusting in His empowerment. For if it is done based on our will power, it will generally follow the usual stereotype of being broken by about January 7.

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