Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Some make them; others don’t. Though resolutions are made with good intentions, they are often not kept. But those who do keep theirs can be pleased for their stick-to-it-ness. Are you one of those persons who have made and kept a resolution in the past or tried yet failed to fulfill it?
Some might not bother to make New Year’s resolutions because they cite that it has pagan origins. According to history, the ancient Babylonians held a festival honoring their gods for their new year which began, not in January, but in March when the crops were planted. They prayed to their gods to keep their promises of paying their debts and return anything they borrowed from their neighbors. They were afraid that if they broke their promises, the gods would punish them throughout the year.
When the Roman Empire ruled the world, the emperor, Julius Caesar changed the calendar which was no longer based on the moon but the sun. This move made January first the beginning of the year rather than March first.
In the Middle Age the church didn’t recognize certain Roman festivals because of their pagan background. New Year’s was, therefore, celebrated in states on various dates throughout Medieval Europe including March 25 and December 25. Then, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII changed the calendar back to January first as the official starting day of the new year. Although other countries, cultures, and religions may not all celebrate January first as the New Year, most of the world continues to recognize it as the official date. And with it the tradition of making resolutions continues, as well. http://www.history.com/news/the-history-of-new-years-resolutions
As I see it, it is perfectly fitting for a Christian to make a resolution whether it be at the start of the New Year or any other time. First, consider the definition of “resolution.” According to the dictionary it means, “Firm determination; something resolved, esp. a decision or expression of opinion adopted by a deliberative body; a solving, as of a problem.” Resolution, noun, is from the word “resolute,” an adjective, meaning, “marked by firm determination: unwavering.” The verb form of “resolution” is the word, “resolve”: “to make or cause to make a firm decision; to state formally in a resolution; to separate into component parts; to find a solution to; to deal with successfully: settle.”
Second, the meaning of “resolution” provides us with several important points to remember when we make New Year’s resolutions: (1) There must be a problem or dissatisfaction of some kind which we sincerely believe is in need of correction or improvement; (2) We must isolate and identify the problem and find ways to solve it; (3) We must be unwavering in our decision to solve the problem; (4) We must be firmly determined to carry out our decision; (5) We must be successful as we carry out that decision, for success breeds success.
Third, we find that a resolution is more than wishful thinking. It’s more than merely “turning over a new leaf.” And it’s more than a whimsical attempt to change things in our lives. Indeed, it entails a serious aim we resolve to accomplish.
One resolution that is excellent for Christians to adopt is from the Apostle Paul’s testimony in Philippians 3:10-14,
… (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; (11) in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (12) Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (New American Standard Bible, NASB)
When it comes to forgetting those things which are behind, this seems like an impossible resolution to keep. There are some things that are not easy to forget although we know we should do it.
It’s been written that it is not easy to apologize, begin over, be unselfish, take advice, admit error, face a sneer, be charitable, keep trying, be considerate, avoid mistakes, endure success, profit by mistakes, forgive and forget, think first and then act, keep out of a rut, make the best of little, subdue an unruly temper, maintain a high standard, shoulder a deserved blame, recognize the silver lining. But it always pays.
Since it pays to do these actions which are not easy, we must have firm determination and unwavering desire to do them. It’s a matter of the mind. The Apostle Peter said, “Prepare your minds for action,” (1 Peter 1:13, NASB) The mind can play tricks on us if we rationalized too much. It can fool us into thinking that we can’t put the past behind us; we can’t forgive others for what they’ve done to us; we can’t change our personalities; we can’t get out of the rut we’re in; we can’t be better off than before. But these can’t’s can be turned into cans when we resolve to change our attitude by saying, like the Apostle Paul, “I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Phil. 4:13).
Through the power of God in Jesus Christ, we CAN forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead. A good resolution is one that moves forward without gazing backward. Someone remarked, “You cannot walk backward into the future.” Remember the movie, “Back to the Future?” It was very entertaining to imagine that someone went back into the past when their parents were teenagers, but it’s all make-believe. The reality is that we cannot go back in time, so we must move ahead into the future.
How do we move forward, then? It includes, pressing toward the mark “for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” What is “the mark,” “the prize,” and “the high calling”?
“The mark” is the translation of a Greek word which indicates “that on which one fixes his gaze.” In classical Greek, it was commonly used as a mark for shooting at, sort of like a bullseye on a target. Interestingly, sin means to “miss the mark.” Instead of sinning, we submit to Christ and, therefore, hit the bullseye by following his instructions.
“The prize” is what we obtain if we hit the mark. The final reward of our resolution is receiving the promise of eternal life. Jesus said, “The words I speak to you, they are full of the Holy Spirit [divine power] and they are life,” (John 6:63). The prize consists of the benefits for obeying the words of Christ and getting ready for his second coming (Luke 12:35-48; Revelation 22:12, “Look, my coming is soon! My reward is with me!”).
“The high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” is God’s call to join the Christian race. The “high” or “upward calling” of God is the call to conversion which Paul heard on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-31). Paul’s conversion to Christ reveals a pattern of change. His resolution to follow the call of Christ is our resolution, too.
As we prepare to cross the threshold of another new year, let us take up the challenge to AIM for the mark, OBTAIN the prize, and HEED the calling of God in Christ. This would be a good resolution for the start of a new year. Don’t you agree?
Here is “We’ll Be Faithful,” by Hosanna! Music: https://youtu.be/ceyQTokSSpw
Happy New Year!
Good News to YOU!