Rethinking New Year’s Resolutions
By James H. Pence –
New Year’s resolutions. Most of us make them. Or at least we think about making them. Maybe we need to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, or read the Bible through. The New Year often gets us in evaluation mode. We examine our lives with a view to being better people.
Unfortunately, more often than not we break our resolutions before January ends. We sink back into long-established habit patterns, and in the end our resolutions are forgotten until the next year. Then we begin the process all over again. This has led some people to think about abandoning the idea of New Year’s resolutions altogether. It’s not that resolutions are bad, but if we repeatedly make them only to break them, they become discouraging and self-defeating.
I’d like to suggest a different approach to resolutions. It was exemplified over 200 years ago by the great pastor-theologian Jonathan Edwards. Early in his life and ministry Edwards made seventy lifelong resolutions. His resolutions are inspiring and challenging, even if some of them are a bit daunting.
Here are a few:
- Resolution #5: Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
- Resolution #7: Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
- Resolution #69: Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it.
What is it about Edwards’ resolutions that make them significant? Most New Year’s resolutions tend to be “me-centered.” Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions were God-centered. Personal commitments—made one time—with God’s glory in view. How did he manage to keep them and especially to keep from forgetting them? The answer is found just before the first resolution:
“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. Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.” (Emphasis added.)
Whether or not you make New Year’s resolutions, take Edwards’ example to heart. We should all regularly resolve to live to the glory of God; however that plays out in our daily life. May all the resolutions in our lives be God-centered.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, grant that I might not make meaningless resolutions this year. By the power of Your Holy Spirit please enable me to resolve daily to live for Your glory.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31 NIV).
Today’s devotion is by James H. Pence. James is an author, speaker, singer, and gospel chalk artist, but prefers to be known as a storyteller. To learn more about James and how he draws the stories of your heart, visit his Web site at: www.jamespence.com.