As each New Year approaches, countless people make resolutions for the next year they are soon to experience. Whether they choose to make an effort to lose weight, patch up bad relationships, or even change bad habits, people seem to be looking for areas of their lives to improve. This is not only a personal commitment based in observation, it is one that is rooted in Scripture.
WHAT IS A RESOLUTION?
What a resolution represents is a conscious acceptance of things in our lives that need to change. Maybe you have a bad eating habit or a friendship that ended on a sour note. Maybe you have recognized that you have habits that send people away and hinder possible connections or have ruined some in the past year or past several years. Whatever the situation, a resolution is a commitment to changing that which is not Christ-like in our lives.
John 14:15-21 finds Jesus speaking:
If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.
If we are seeking God in all things, God is going to reveal to us areas in our lives that need changing. As Christians we are called to live in accordance with the teachings of Christ and let the Holy Spirit work in us to change what we need to change. We must be willing to confront these areas and allow God to work through us to change our lives for the better. You will find that a resolution is much harder to keep when God is not at the center of it.
The purpose of a resolution at the very core is to allow God to make changes in our lives that we cannot seem to change on our own. We are called to adhere to the teachings which Christ has delivered and a resolution is very much a revelation to us from God.
A FEW VERSES TO CONSIDER ON SPECIFIC RESOLUTIONS
In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus instructs Peter for forgive those who have acted negatively towards us with an infinite forgiveness. He goes on to instruct through the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in which the servant is forgiven of a debt. The servant then had the opportunity to forgive a fellow servant who owed him a debt and refused the opportunity and had the man thrown in prison. When the servant’s master becomes aware of this, he retracts his forgiveness and sends the servant to prison until the servant could pay back his debt.
Christ ends this parable with a haunting Truth in Matthew 18:35:
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.
Sometimes forgiveness is hard, but Christ makes it a mandate in our lives. If there is someone in your life that you need to forgive, allow the Holy Spirit to mentor you and bring you to a point of closure. Christ never says that this forgiveness mandates the need for a relationship, but He does call us to forgive others just as He has forgiven our sins through His death and resurrection. It may take one year, it may take several. You may find this resolution is on your list for what will seem like forever, but do not give up on it. Christ has called us to harbor no ill will towards others because there is no anger in His Kingdom.
We must also learn to accept the forgiveness for our sins which Christ has allowed for us. This is the first step to making Christ-like changes. There is a sense of guilt we feel when we sin (and we should), but we must also remember that Christ died and resurrected as atonement for our missteps and sins against God.
Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 3:16:
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
The Holy Spirit is inside of each one of us as it guides us along our calling in life. We know the popular Philippians 4:13 verse in which Paul boasts that he can do all things through the power of Christ, but that power comes from the Holy Spirit. These areas that God reveals to us that need changing are not often areas we feel comfortable confronting. God is aware of this and will work in us through the Holy Spirit to help us become more like Christ. The catalyst for change in our lives is the Holy Spirit, we must embrace it.
We can take this a bit further with improving our health and eating habits. Maybe God is calling you to incorporate a bit of exercise into your life to keep the body God has given you healthy and able to continue down God’s path for your life. Do not confuse this with bodybuilding and avoiding food altogether. Making changes in diet and walking or jogging several times a week may be the simple changes God is asking you to make in care for the temple that our bodies represent.
Paul writes in Romans 12:2:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We all have habits we need to break. Society tells us that these habits are acceptable, but God has made it clear in Scripture that sin is no area for being “politically correct”. We know what sin is, know the sins we commit, and we should be seeking repentance through Christ for them. Our bad habits are very much sinful and they may be difficult to break, but it is not impossible to break them. If you find that God has shown you the need to break certain habits in the coming year (and sometimes it may take longer), lean on Christ and break the chains that have consumed your life. God’s will for our lives becomes a bit clearer when our negative habits and sins have rarer occurrences in our lives.
A RESOLUTION WE ALL SHOULD MAKE
Life is busy, hectic, and a cluttered mess at times. When we approach the New Year, we are often worn out and tired from all of the trials and events that have consumed our lives over the past year. When we look back, we often find that we really didn’t spend as much time reading and studying Scripture as we should have. Nor do we usually pray as often as we should. One resolution we can all make this year (and every year) is to dedicate more time to God and to Scripture.
Paul states in Philippians 3:12-15:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
When we look back at the past year, we can get discouraged and overwhelmed by the mistakes we made and events we may even be carrying into the New Year. Paul reminds us that we should stay focused on God and pursuing the plans God has for us in this day and in the future. Our call is to reveal Christ to others so that they might know Him and our goal is eternal salvation not only for ourselves, but for all of man. The Holy Spirit will calm our worries and allow us to leave the past behind us as we strive to become better in our walks with Christ.
Psalm 119:11 states:
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
The more we study, the more we see what we need to change. We will never be without sin because it is our nature, but God’s Word can help us to confront them and change them to become more Christ-like.
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
The only way to live as God has asked us is to study the Word which God has given us and seek the Lord as we attempt to incorporate Christ’s teachings in our lives. Studying Scripture can improve our moods, our outlooks, and our goals in life. The Bible is a GPS with the inspiration of God as the navigating voice. We all need to make more time to allow God to be more present in our lives and follow the path God has for us.
Our entire goal in life should be to live out the life God has called us to. One of service, humility, and sacrifice. God has a unique plan for each one of us that is revealed as we pray and focus on His Word. His Word enables us to carry out the work He calls us to.
Paul states in Acts 20:24:
I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Make a resolution that becomes a consistent trend. Focus more on God and less on yourself. God has our best interests in mind and despite how difficult things may seem, they can and will get better as we find peace in His Word and allow Him to make changes in our lives. God has created us to proclaim Glory due to God and to reveal God’s self through our actions and deeds. We must be conscious of this and present to God’s mentoring in our lives at all times.
A resolution isn’t just something we dedicate ourselves to for a few months, a resolution is something that changes our lives. Allow God to reveal the areas that need changing and the Holy Spirit will help you reach that calling.
Make the New Year the beginning of a more dedicated walk with Christ.