Making Real Resolutions

The New Year is here and with it new goals and resolutions from people determined to make a difference.  Objectives that can range from finishing a project, being nicer to people, fixing personal problems, etc., regardless of what it is the person has concluded they either wish to change, or fulfill a certain aspiration.

Don’t we all desire a shift in our attitudes, a continuing friendship with others, a project to have completed? Yes, it’s a within our nature to start, persevere and finish, no matter how many times the cycle spins. We are to a certain degree discontent with laxity. For Westerners at least, we’re discontent having nothing accomplished and dissatisfied with having nothing to do. To an extent every human being is like this; everyone spends their time accomplishing and creating goals, whether they’re meager or broad. In the prospect of success, the longing and actual doing of something is far better than the achieving of nothing.  Everyone in some way recognizes this principle. That being, I find that New Year’s resolutions are simply another outlet for us to secure this inner desire to ‘press on’.

Nothing is inherently wrong about making resolutions or working to meet a goal.  You’re doing something instead of nothing. From the perspective of accomplishment, work is the means to achieve a task, and once a task is completed it’s done, you’ve gained something, and that’s good. But this is only from a work perspective.

For work to begin, we must first have a resolution, a goal, an idea set before us that determines what we are going to do and how we are to do it. Underlying this resolution is desire. Why do I want to get this done? For what reason should I do it? The answers to these questions put forth the motivation to accomplish our goal.

In the case of a new resolution motivation is what drives us. This being the case, isn’t it possible for motivations to be wrong? For instance a man’s motive may be self-seeking, so he steals, but does this justify the action or make it a safe thing to do? No. It’s quite obvious that motives can be concealed with evil desires, or bluntly good ones; which leads me back to resolutions.

What makes a good resolution? The amount of money it holds, the more people will like you? What are virtuous resolutions? What do they look like? Are they ones filled with self-ambition or reverence before God?

With everyone making new resolutions to achieve new goals, I think it’s very important for us to have these questions in mind. For the Christian this is not a practicality (a choice based on what works out best) but is a decision which could potentially be made in disobedience to God. Motives come from the heart, and from the heart come sinful intentions. If resolutions are made behind a motive then that resolution has the possibility of being corrupt and contrary to the very will of God.

If this is true than making resolutions is no small deal, nor should it be taken as such. Our resolutions need to be God focused, and anything else is in opposition to His will.

So what does this look like… and how does it change the way we make our resolutions? Well I think there a few things we need to keep in mind:

  1. Our Resolutions Shouldn’t Be Based on Personal Gain: When we think of an idea, our tendency is to balance it on a scale which asks: what will this accomplish me? If the answer is leaning towards more benefits, then that’s the one we’ll most likely choose. But God doesn’t ask us to follow Him based on what we want; instead He calls to do things that will always be contrary to our fleshly desires; and acting otherwise is living for self. Why shouldn’t we live for self? Why is it wrong to have resolutions based on what I want instead of God? Scripture gives us the answer:

“For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” James 3:16

“The fool folds his hands
And consumes his own flesh.
Better a handful with quietness
Than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.

Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun:

There is one alone, without companion:
He has neither son nor brother.
Yet there is no end to all his labors,
Nor is his eye satisfied with riches.
But he never asks,
“For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good?”
This also is vanity and a grave misfortune.” –Ecclesiastes 4:5-8

From these verses we can get that self-ambition: is evil, grasping for the wind, not satisfying, and ultimately vanity and grave misfortune. Since resolutions are covered with this problem and could potentially be filled with opposition towards God, it’s not only important to be self-aware, but to make a choice: God or yourself. For the Christian it’s obvious: since “he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2)

  1. Our Resolutions Should Glorify God: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) The ‘whatever you do’ is certainly not exclusive of our aspirations. Is this obligatory though? Is everything to be done for His glory? Why can’t we only do some things for His glory? The answer is quite obvious: we are to do all for the glory of God; not only a few good deeds, but everything.

Which leads me to the conclusion:

  1. Our Resolutions Need to Be God Centered: If our resolutions are not to be in accordance to self-ambition, and are to be made with the intention of glorifying God, then they should be God centered! Simply put, not for your will, not for your glory, but for the glory of God.

But why do our resolutions need to be God centered? Only because dying intentions leave you a dying man. If God is not at the base of your plans, you will be like Israel, who constantly lost their law, and indeed for the majority of their years were lost. When they fell away from God, they were conquered, and in parallel to yourself, without God as the basis you will continue to be subjugated by the bondage of sin.

Ask God to conform your resolutions to His will, make your life a living sacrifice, not for the sake of some legalistic ideal that once done you’ll be accepted into the Kingdom, but because that’s what God wants you to do; because Christian you are too love and desire to do His will. God will certainly not turn down those prayers. (Matthew 21: 21-23)

If your desire is not His will but you wish it to be, if God is not in your life: then pray, believe and repent. Christ is the way to Everlasting Life.