New Year’s Resolutions

You have probably been asked numerous times about your New Year’s Resolutions, by now. Have you given any thought to what yours might be? Many people find it difficult to define and refine these. To be sure, it is quite common to struggle with this annual ritual of resolution making and, according to the experts, resolution breaking. Some estimate that more than two thirds of those who do make annual resolutions do not keep them.

This can become quite frustrating. Many have simply given up on the practice of outlining goals for the New Year. Others go through the motions in response to peer pressure. But, they have no real resolve to follow through on the priorities listed. Nevertheless, there is great value is fashioning a strategic plan for growth and development. Many years ago, at the age of 19, a young man named James made the following resolutions:

— Resolved, never to speak ill of an individual but to call to mind my own sins and imperfections and be silent.

— Resolved, when my heart feels cold and languid, to strive earnestly in prayer to God for deliverance from such a state and for the abiding influence of His Holy Spirit; and to inquire into the causes which have produced this effect upon me and to guard against them in the future.

— Resolved, never to go to bed without having endeavored to learn something more of God as He is revealed in the Holy Scriptures than I knew when I rose in the morning.

— Resolved, to keep in mind during the business of the day the good resolutions which I may have formed for my assistance so that if I neglect them, I may humble myself and in my retirement earnestly seek pardon from God.

— Resolved, to say nothing to irritate the feelings of anyone and especially of my relations and friends.

— Resolved, to leave as soon as possible any company which might draw off my thoughts from the things of eternity.

— Resolved, never to neglect to devote a certain portion of every twenty-four hours to secret meditation and prayer.

— Resolved, never to halt in doing anything of which I am convinced that it is duty.” (Tan, P. L., Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations)

What became of this young man and his resolve? He is known to us as Dr. James Clement Furman, founder and first president of Furman University. Indeed, God’s blessings are promised to those who conceive of and commit their plans to the Lord. This is underscored in Proverbs 16:3 which states: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

Have you prayerfully considered making New Year’s resolutions this year? It can be rewarding. More importantly, this can help us experience a closer walk with God and greater fruitfulness as followers of Jesus. If you feel God prompting you to make resolutions this year, you might find the following biblical perspectives to be helpful:

1) With regards to life in general and the daily choices that we must make, consider Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

2) When it comes to our dealings with family members, fellow Christians, friends, and co-workers, reflect on Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

3) As it relates to our personal integrity, spiritual development and sacrificial service, think about Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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.”

4) With respect to every aspect of life and in view of the vastness of eternity, Colossians 3:23-24 is worth considering: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

© Bill Williams, December 27, 2006

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About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
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22 Responses to New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Kathy says:

    I would expect no less from you than this great guideline for making and keeping resolutions throughout the new year of 2007! Because it is so excellent, I beg your permission to reproduce in its entirety for those of us that participate on an online Faith & Prayer board.

    Also, maybe you’ll reproduce it throughout the year to remind us of these excellent resolves. 🙂

    May 2007 be a spectacular year in the LORD for you and all your participants here at Spiritual Oasis!!

  2. Bill says:

    Thank you, dear sister, for your kind words. You are certainly welcome to use this wherever you deem it appropriate.

    May God’s richest blessings be yours in the coming new year!

    -bill

  3. I have a hard time with “new year’s resolutions.” But I think you have pointed me in the right direction. I will share some myself in a day or so.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  4. Maggie says:

    Everyone I know refuses to make resolutions any more…setups for a guilt trip when energy fails.

    Most say, “goals, hopes, dreams”.

    I think, in the end, most of my age refuses to resolve anything for fear of failure and guilt.

    I wonder if there is still benefit to resolve?

    I usually go with what God tells me to do for the year: claim a verse? work on a relationship? a skill? a specific attitude or goal. The more simple, the better, at this stage of my life.

    It IS very easy for it all to get to be too much to handle.

    “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, therefore, so not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” I think that applies.

    Yet, keeping godly goals is certainly something to strive for. Where is the balance?

  5. Greg England says:

    I no longer make New Year’s resolutions. Dr. Furman obviously never drove in Southern California traffic, for resolution #1 would be most impractical.

  6. Here’s a rambling comment in follow-up to several of your comments. Hope it makes sense. I don’t have time to edit…

    Perhaps one of the difficult things about New Year’s Resolutions is the arbitrariness of the timing. Maybe that’s what Bobby struggles with. I’m not really sure. I know many who do. I also know some who get loaded up with a ton of guilt over resolutions. This time of the year may be too busy for some to take even a few minutes for reflection, meditation and prayer. There may be many of us who have tried and failed so many times at so many similar things that we don’t want to add another bullet item to the list of “wish-I-coulda’s”. Some of us simply have an aversion to making resolutions, thinking this puts too much emphasis on what we want to do, instead of what God wants us to do. Perhaps this is where Maggie is coming from. In this regard I had a good friend who used to say that God can just as easily direct our steps through the goal setting process as He can direct our steps on a day-to-day basis.

    In the end, I still encourage people to make resolutions. Not twenty or thirty of them, either. Not even ten or twelve. Why not start with asking God to place a burden on your heart for two or three things? Once (If) His will becomes evident, commit yourself to these noble pursuits, realizing it is not by might or power that they will be accomplished, by in the power of God’s Holy Spirit strengthening you and guiding your steps. If this works for your, you might even repeat the process several times before year’s end, the Lord willing.

    BTW, Greg, the traffic that I drove in a few days ago (between San Diego and Mission Viejo) was nothing compared to the excitement we experience here on the east coast, which I avoid like the plague. No doubt, it’s much worse where you are. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to lead a funeral procession through Los Angeles’ traffic. May God be with you, brother. Those of you who must fight such traffic on a daily basis have my sympathies and prayers.

  7. Emilee says:

    I enjoyed your statements on commitment. I know that when you commit yourself to the Lord outstanding things will occur. How does this happen? It must have been the self-guided reflection in prayer when we were first introduced to his word.

    Prayer–Do people really know how to pray for results?

    Emilee

  8. Maggie says:

    Good thoughts, Bill. I said “my age”, but an elderly woman today at the post office who corrected herself, “no, goals, not a resolution”, had me thinking already.

    Perhaps there is something special about the word “resolve”? I guess I’m afraid also of making a promise I cannot realistically keep. I like the word “goals” better, I think…not involving a pledge or promise as much.

    I remembered this hymn I sang as a child:
    I am resolved no longer to linger
    charmed by the world’s delight
    Jesus, greatest, highest, he has allured my sight.
    I will, hasten to him
    Hasten so glad and free
    Jesus, greatest highest
    I will come to Thee.

    Resolve.

    May we at the very least be people of purpose!

  9. Maggie says:

    I was thinking of this today (ya’ll feel free to jump on in here…I’m the only stay at home mom enjoying home life and my new computer programs today, I think! [Photoshop Elements…trying to figure that out!])

    Thanks for the mail, Bill. yes, Ecc. 5:1-3 on not being too quick to utter anything before God.

    Also, this came to my mind. I hadn’t read it in a while and didn’t know where to find it until I went to find your verses:

    Numbers 30:2
    When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

  10. Greg England says:

    Bill: We were returning home from a visit w/ my son on Christmas night and at one point in the trip it took us 45 minutes to travel 3 miles!

  11. Bill one of my new year’s resolutions is to meditate more on the Holy Spirit … I have started today. Take a look on my blog.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  12. Maria Toth says:

    I better get thinking!
    Every blessing
    Maria in the UK
    http://www.inhishands.co.uk

  13. cwinwc says:

    After our preacher’s series on the “Be-attitudes” I’d like to resolve to “be” the “Be-attitudes.”

  14. mwilson1382 says:

    Hey Bill!

    Hope you had a merry christmas and happy new year. Didn’t know if you knew but I had my blog deleted so I swtiched over (just tonight) to wordpress (I saw the light I guess!!!) so anyway, wanted to let you know I’m back up and running (http://www.mattwilson.wordpress.com).

    Good post my friend. Glad the Spiritual Oasis is up and running…I know how looking forward you were to getting this going…Im glad its been such a blessing to so many people.

    Talk with you soon.

    matt

  15. Anette says:

    I love the concept of New Years resolutions. They usually do not happen the way one wants, but they are always an occasion for critical self-reflection and placing hope in the future. What is mine this year? Hmm… Fortunately, i have one more day to self-reflect and then I will know. 🙂

  16. brian says:

    Do you make smaller goals so you will feel encouraged by accomplishing them?
    Or?
    Should we set more difficult goals to stretch and be satisfied with the progress even if we don’t completely attain the goal?

    maybe it comes down to personality…

    I put a resolution in the signature of my email for 2006, and abbreviated it, like an acronym, that way people kept asking me what in the world it meant, and that was a constant reminder of my goal…

  17. What a beautiful post! Thank you for the inspiration. And thank you for stopping by my blog!

    Blessings in the New Year!

  18. donna says:

    Happy New Year Bill…and Blessings in the New Year

  19. Amy says:

    Yes, Happy New Year. I’m afraid I’m one of the no resoultion people. I do evaluate things, though. Well, I guess I have made two – to be on time for church and to send birthday cards.

    But I really like your approach with the scriptures.

    Thanks for adding me to your blogroll.

  20. Trey says:

    Love the New Year’s Resolutions article … good, good stuff.

    Thanks for sharing…

    Trey

    http://rediscovering-church.blogspot.com/

  21. JP says:

    Great list, something I always fall short on, but always start a new day, with a fresh start, with new hope to accomplish the goals set. Enjoying the blog by the way.

  22. JP says:

    Bill, as long as you do not mind, I’d like to add you to my blogroll.

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