Making New Year’s resolutions is both customary and natural. It’s customary in that it has become a time-honored practice for many whenever we enter a brand new year. It’s natural because we are humanly inclined to want to put past disappointments behind us and look ahead with hope to make things better.
Some make resolutions; others don’t. Ironically, those who don’t make resolutions are resolved to believe that they can’t be kept anyway. So, why bother? This is natural, too. For in their thinking, why get one’s hope up only to see a resolution broken not long after it was made? Someone quipped, “Most of the leaves we turned over in January have already started to fall.”
But the cynics against New Year’s resolutions are apparently in the minority. According to one source, a survey taken by YouGov just prior to 2018 revealed that most people were looking forward to turning over a new leaf. It was reported that only 32 percent were not planning to make New Year’s resolutions, therefore, leading to the conclusion that the majority were. Some of the top resolutions were to eat better, exercise more, spend less money, take better care of themselves like get more sleep. and to read more. (https://patch.com/us/across-america/here-are-most-popular-new-years-resolutions-2018)
Did all of them follow through with their goals? According to a YouGov survey taken midway through last year, only one out of five Americans or 20% mostly or completely stuck with their 2018 New Year’s resolutions. To break it down, the survey showed that only six percent kept their resolution 100 percent while 14 percent said they had “mostly stuck” with their resolution. As far as I can find right now, the stats on this issue for the remainder of the year are not in yet. But I venture to say that, according to the statistics gathered previously in the year, the numbers didn’t change much. (https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2018/06/28/2018-new-years-resolutions-update)
So, with these figures, we ask: Are the cynics correct? Are many justified in not making any resolutions for the year? What does it mean to make a resolution, anyway?
Consider the meaning of the word. A resolution indicates that someone is resolved to find a solution to a problem and firmly decide on the action one will take. “Resolve” is a strong word with synonyms like courage, firmness, steadfastness. When someone of strong character is hell-bent on pursuing a resolution, that person is resolved to see it through.
As we find from the statistics, most people sincerely make resolutions but very few are totally resolved to complete them. The custom of making them is natural. But if there isn’t enough resolve, then the custom of breaking them is also natural without the strength of will.
For Christians, living the way of Christ is more significant than the custom of making New Year’s resolutions. For it’s far more than a natural desire to make things better for the next 12 months. It’s a serious resolve to let Christ provide transformation and growth for the rest of one’s life.
In my thinking, following Christ boils down to a genuine and sincere resolve to be distinctive as opposed to the ungodly ways of the world. For the Apostle Paul urged the Corinthian church, “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you,” (2 Cor. 6:17.) Paul was concerned that the church was into idolatry and worldliness that went against the higher standards of God’s Word (verses 11-16). He was exhorting believers to be resolved in two things: (1) to set themselves apart from sin; and, (2) to set themselves apart for God and his service.
This is the kind of resolve we all need. Even though we wrestle against sin everyday as we strive to serve God, we do not give up giving 100 percent toward reaching this goal. Like Paul testified, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet (resurrection to life, vss. 10-12) ; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 4:13-14).
The apostle reminded the Corinthian church, just as we’re reminded today, that we are part of God’s family. Quoting Isaiah, the prophet who recorded God’s Word to Israel, “I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty,” (2 Cor. 6:18; Isa. 43:6). Now that Christ has grafted Gentile believes into “the commonwealth of Israel” (Romans 11:11-13; Ephesians 2:11-13), we also have the duty and privilege of pursuing our resolve to obey our Father in heaven. This gives us a unique distinction to which nonbelievers cannot identify or relate.
Our resolve to “come out from among them” and “be separate” is not taken lightly (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Peter 2:9-12). When the unbelieving world sees us working to hold to our holy resolve, it will challenge us to remain true to it. Moreover, due to our nature, we will be tempted to give up under the pressure of our own personal temptation. And even though we give it our best shot everyday, we will often fail. That’s just the way it is. (Note Paul’s frustration: Romans 7:14-25.)
However—unlike making and breaking New Year’s resolutions—we are still determined to NEVER give up on our resolve as God’s people to trust and obey him through his wonderful grace. We continue to move forward, resolved to be distinctive in truth, through love, faith, and hope in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Good News to YOU!
P.S. The cause of our resolve is Jesus Christ and our desire to make him Number One in our lives. Here’s Kari Jobe singing, “The Cause of Christ”: http://youtu.be/v0ybgYajDHg