Making Spiritual New Year’s Resolutions

James 4:17

Every January, millions of people begin their year with New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight, getting organized, exercising more, eating healthier, and managing finances better are some of the most common resolutions. But what about making spiritual New Year’s resolutions?

We make commitments and tell our friends and family on January 1st, only to give it all up by January 3rd. But as humans, our struggle for consistency goes way beyond resolutions. Making commitments we can’t keep runs all through society, back to Biblical times. In the Bible, James spoke of some people who can teach us a valuable lesson about great intentions that aren’t aligned with God’s will: 

Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say, “We are traveling to this city in the next few days. We’ll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up.” The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. It would be best to say, “If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream.” But your current speech indicates an arrogance that does not acknowledge the One who controls the universe, and this kind of big talking is the epitome of evil. So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin—plain and simple.  James 4:13-17 (The Voice)

Better Resolutions

Our plans may or may not be God’s plans. If we want to be successful with any New Year’s resolution, we must seek God’s will. By his strength we might lose weight, eat better, or become better stewards of our finances. What does God want for our lives? When he convicts, he also equips us to follow through with the plan. When we know we are following God’s plan, then we have more strength to stick to it, allowing him to work well beyond our normal January 3rd quitting date.

For this reason, my brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the return of the Lord. Look! The farmer knows how to wait patiently for the land to produce vegetables and fruits. He cannot harvest a freshly planted seed. Instead, he waits for the early and the late showers to nourish the soil. You need this same kind of patience, so in the meantime, strengthen your resolve because the Lord will be coming soon.   James 5:7-8 (The Voice)

The farmer waits patiently for the Lord to bring the growth, but it doesn’t mean he sits on his porch doing nothing. The farmer works hard work, watering and weeding, repairing equipment, and completing all of the daily chores. When a farmer does what a farmer is supposed to do, God is able to do the things that only he can do. It’s not easy being patient.

Would the Lord be honored if our bodies (the temple of the Holy Spirit) were in better shape? Would he be blessed if our financial affairs were in order? Is it possible that he would use us mightily if we serve in a ministry, or shared our faith? The answer to each of these questions is the same. Certainly the Lord can be in these things. However, committing to lose weight does not mean sitting on the couch with a bag of chips watching the Biggest Loser. Like the farmer, we must to do what we need to do, so that God can do what only he can do to produce results in our lives.

But, why is it that we only make resolutions about weight, exercise, and money?

God would be honored if we made spiritual resolutions. Read the Bible, get involved in ministry at church, share our faith with friends, make a step of faith that is so big that only God can make it happen. Resolve to represent him no matter what the cost.

“Let’s then go out to Him and resolve to bear the insult and abuse that He endured.” — Hebrews 13:13 (The Voice)

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Peter 4:19 (NIV)

Best Resolutions

Here are a few possible resolutions we might consider.

Seek God’s face, and pray David’s prayer every morning for the next year.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God;

restore within me a sense of being brand new.
Do not throw me far away from Your presence,

and do not remove Your Holy Spirit from me.” — Psalm 51:10-11 (The Voice)

Let’s resolve to give our attitudes to the Lord. Commit to making a difference at home, in the workplace, the marketplace, on the roads, and even at church.

You could make this passage your resolution:

“But above all these, put on love! Love is the perfect tie to bind these together. Let your hearts fall under the rule of the Anointed’s peace (the peace you were called to as one body), and be thankful.” — Colossians 3:14-15 (The Voice)

Thomas Fuller, well-known preacher from England, understood how to be successful in our resolve. In the mid 1600’s Fuller made this statement:

Seek Him and His wonderful plan for your life. The two of you will make a great team—united in your determination to fulfill your destiny. A strong will, a settled purpose, an invincible 
determination can accomplish almost anything. Thomas Fuller

The two of you make a great team! What an empowering statement. So often we think we are forging our path alone.  We live as though life is completely up to us. Yet, if we are “In Christ” we are part of a team.

“This expression of God’s restorative justice displays in the present that He is just and righteous and that He makes right those who trust and commit themselves to Jesus.” — Romans 3:26 (The Voice)

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” — Colossians 3:17 (NIV)

Life is not always easy. Following through on simple commitments can even be difficult when bombarded by every day affairs. In addition, the attacks of the evil one will challenge us at every turn. Because of this, we offer this prayer on your behalf. 

 Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. — Acts 20:32  (NIV)

Your Turn

What spiritual New Year’s resolutions will you make this year? Leave your comments below! We’d love to encourage you and pray for you.

Fred Bittner

Fred has a passion for small group Bible studies. His experience includes 20 years in ministry and 16 years in public education. He started and led a singles ministry that included several hundred believers, and helped establish a small group ministry in a growing church. He has seven books in print. His latest book, The Art of Worship is a great primer for new believers. Visit his website at www.2t2ministries.org

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