What type of New Year's resolutions are appropriate for Christians?
There is something generally appealing about new starts, such as seem to come with the New Year. Making changes, setting goals, or making resolutions as part of starting a New Year is a common practice. In fact, the tradition of making New Year's resolutions dates back at least 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians.
Julius Caesar declared in 45 BC that January 1 would be the beginning of the year. Of course, January 1 is no different than January 2 or April 16 or June 20. Nothing mystical happens as the calendar turns from December 31 to January 1. But, still, the idea of a fresh start can be helpful for prompting consideration of the way we live our lives and considering whether changes or fresh goals are warranted.
Common New Year's resolutions are to quit some vice, like smoking, or start something positive, like routine exercise. Most New Year's resolutions seem to center around becoming healthier. First Timothy 4:8 tells us that physical health is good, but godliness is a higher priority.
Christians sometimes resolve to pray more, read the Bible daily, or tithe. These are all good things to be doing. However, spiritual resolutions fail as much as non-spiritual ones. Simply resolving to do something because we think we should does not actually change us.
What are we, as Christians, to do then? Ignore resolutions? Maybe.
Try this instead: Ask God what He would want you to do to honor Him. James 1:5 says we can ask for wisdom and He will give it. Pray then for the fortitude to follow through. More than that, ask God to give you a love and commitment to Him through your resolution. Connect your resolution to prayer. In other words, pray about your resolution daily. If your resolution is to spend time reading the Bible daily, pray for God's help when you awake.
Also, ask a friend to help you and keep you accountable. This friend will help you be disciplined, and encourage you. Don't become discouraged if you fail. Don't become prideful if you are succeeding. Also, remember that the time for transformation is not only at New Year's. God is continually at work in us to make us more like Him (Philippians 1:6; 2:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18). If there is something in our lives that needs to change, there is no reason to wait until January 1 to start engaging in the process.
"Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday" (Psalm 37:5–6).
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