The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January 1. Nothing mystical occurs at midnight on December 31. The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. However, if a Christian determines to make a New Year’s resolution, what kind of resolution should he or she make?
The most common resolutions include losing weight, working out, and eating healthy. Others want to stop smoking or drinking and to manage money better. Some people want to do all these things. Many Christians make New Year’s resolutions to pray more, read the Bible every day, and attend church more regularly.
By the time February is here, the vast majority of these resolutions will be long forgotten. We will be back doing the same things we were doing last year. Perhaps the problem is with our motivation for the resolutions, to begin with. Why do we want to lose weight, work out, read the Bible, etc.? Do we want to do these things in hopes of improving ourselves for selfish reasons (vanity) or to bring honor and glory to God?
Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” John 15:5 declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If God is the center of your New Year’s resolution, it has a chance for success, depending on your commitment to it. If it is God’s Will for something to be fulfilled, He will enable you to fulfill it. If a resolution is not God-honoring and/or is not in agreement with God’s Word, we will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolution.
Therefore, what should a Christian do about making New Year’s Resolutions? Here are some suggestions: (1) pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) regarding what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; (2) pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; (3) rely on God’s strength to help you; (4) find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; (5) don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further; (6) don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” And, always remember Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”