This time of year is famous for its resolutions. Everyone seems to be making them. Even those who resolve NOT to make any resolutions are ironically still managing to do so. What is it about a new year that inspires us to put the past behind and march resolutely into the future? And is it even biblical to start a new year with new resolutions?
LOOKING BACK — MARCHING FORWARD
“Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me.” Isaiah 46:9
It may seem contradictory that Scripture commands the Israelites to “remember the former things” just three chapters after telling them “not to look back” on the past (Isaiah 43:18-19). At the time, the children of Israel were held captive in Babylon and greatly longing for home. Through Isaiah, God reminds them of His faithfulness in the past, but challenges them not to dwell on it because He is planning to do something new and wonderful.
Like the Israelites, we are so prone to dwell on the past rather than using it as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us. A soldier who remembers home is motivated to endure for the sake of those he loves. But a soldier who dwells on home will never be able to focus on the task at hand. As we begin 2018, are you remembering the past and learning from it or are you dwelling in the past and refusing to let it go?
RESOLUTIONS: ARE THEY BIBLICAL?
Throughout Scripture we find repeated precedent for resolutions, decisions, oaths, promises, covenants, and creeds. When faced with a decadent temptation, Daniel and his friends resolved not to dishonor their God (Daniel 1:8). Joseph resolved to put away his betrothed rather than make her a public example (Matthew 1:19). And among the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul resolved to know only one thing—Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).
Continuing the tradition, believers have made and used resolutions to grow in their walk with Christ throughout every era of church history. One of the more notable examples of this was the Puritan preacher, Jonathan Edwards, who is remembered for his role in the First Great Awakening. At the age of nineteen, Edwards compiled an impressive list of resolutions for his spiritual walk. But even while he made those resolutions, Jonathan was keenly aware of his own inability apart from Christ.
“Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help,
I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions,
so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.” – Jonathan Edwards
Have you made resolutions in the past and failed to keep them? Have your well-laid plans fizzled like a mirage after a few days or weeks? Are you afraid to make more resolutions because you don’t want to fail again? You are not alone. A growing number of individuals are resolving NOT to make resolutions each year. Yet, as the ancient adage asserts, “Those who aim at nothing will not be disappointed.”