“Happy New Year!” What resolutions are you making? Why is it that the first half of this greeting brings smiles, while the second half often brings a groan? The dawn of a new year seems like a natural time to start afresh, to determine to put negative things of the past behind, and to plan and work for a more positive future. Yet, as our groan at the word “resolution” reminds us, we’ve aimed for this kind of change many times but somehow our resolve dwindles and very little positive change actually results.
Jesus declared, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Surely this is the goal that we, as disciples of Jesus, are looking toward when we once again make our New Year’s Resolutions. We long to come to the living waters of the life He has promised, to drink of it, and to thereafter live fully, abundantly, joyfully, in both body and spirit. Jesus has promised this abundant life, so why, with all our best efforts, with all our well-meant resolutions, does it seem so often to be out of our reach?
Look again at Jesus’ promise. “I am come that they might have life, abundantly.” Jesus alone, not our best efforts and resolutions, is the only source of truly abundant life. Resolving that I will eat more healthy food; I will stop smoking; I will earn more money; or even settling on seemingly loftier resolutions such as “I will read my Bible and pray every day; I will volunteer at the Food Bank this year” fails to recognize the fact that in our own strength we can never achieve truly abundant living. But: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). We must abide in Jesus!
Only if the Lord is at the centre of our resolutions, only if they come from Him and are His will for us, will our resolutions bring the abundant life that He has promised. We must get our eyes off the worlds’ goals, including our own goals, and see from God’s perspective. Do I want to read my Bible and pray because it is the right thing to do, or so that the people at church will respect me; or is my goal to glorify, honor, obey and love my Savior who gave His all for me? Have I come to God and sought His wisdom (James 1:5) in determining what resolutions He would have me make in this new year? Are my resolutions actually His purposes for me? Have I asked Him to do His work in me, and to provide the circumstances and guidance and strength needed? Am I prepared to seek out and allow my fellow believers, the Body of Christ, to encourage and uphold me and keep me accountable? Am I looking forward to giving all the glory to God, and to committing any “success” to the fulfillment of His purposes for my life, no matter how different those purposes may be as compared to my own ideas?
The Word of God gives us clear direction about the kind of life we are to seek. It is to be a God-birthed and God-centered life (Jn 3:14-18, Tit 2:7) of faith (Heb 11). If you choose to make New Year’s Resolutions this year, be sure they are grounded in His Word, and guided by Him through prayer and walking in His Spirit. Seek a life of Christ-likeness, accepting His cross, separated from the world, yielded and subject to the Father’s will. You will experience joyful, abundant life! Happy New Year!
Date: January 2006