4 Christian Principles For Making New Year's Resolutions
From Nathan W. Bingham * December 30, 2011
“What’s your New Year’s resolution?”
If you haven’t been asked that question this month, with only two days remaining in 2011 it’s likely you’ll be asked soon enough. As a culture it seems we’re obsessed with making New Year’s resolutions in December, and then breaking them in January. Before you follow the pattern of the world, it is worth considering how a Christian should think about resolutions.
In the January 2009 edition of Tabletalk Burk Parson’s wrote a very helpful article titled, Resolved by the Grace of God. In that article he reflects on some words from the great theologian, Jonathan Edwards—suggesting four Christian principles for making resolutions.
Please prayerfully consider these before you make any New Year’s resolutions.
“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
1. Resolve Sensibly
“Being sensible,” Edwards begins his preface — we must be sensible, reasonable, in making resolutions. If we set ourselves about the business of hastily making resolutions as the result of our grand illusions of sinless perfection, it is likely that we will not merely fail in our attempt to keep such resolutions, we will likely be less inclined to make any further resolutions for similar desired ends. We must go about making resolutions with genuine prayer and thorough study of God’s Word. Our resolutions must be in accord with the Word of God; therefore, any resolution we make must necessarily allow us to fulfill all our particular callings in life. We must consider all the implications of our resolutions and be careful to make resolutions with others in mind, even if it means implementing new resolutions incrementally over time.
2. Resolve Dependently
“I am unable to do anything without God’s help,” Edwards admits. We must be sensible in grasping the simple truth that every resolution must be made in dependence on God. And while every Christian would respond by saying, “Well, of course we must depend on God for all things,” most Christians have been sold the world’s bill of goods. They think that once they become dependent on God, then they will have immediate strength. They mimic the world’s mantra: “Whatever doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.” While the principle is generally true, such thinking can foster an attitude of proud independence. We must understand that in being able to do all things through Christ who strengthens us means that we must depend on His strength continuously in order to do all things and to keep all our resolutions (Eph. 3:16; Col. 1:11). In truth, whatever doesn’t kill us, by God’s conforming grace, makes us weak so that in our weakness we will rely continuously on the strength of our Lord (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
3. Resolve Humbly
“I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions.” In making resolutions for the glory of God and before the face of God, we must not come into His presence pounding our chests in triumphal arrogance as if God must now love and bless us more because we have made certain resolutions to follow Him more. In reality, the Lord in His providence may choose to allow even more trials to enter our lives; in His unchanging fatherly love for us, He may decide to discipline us even more in order that we might more so detest our sin and delight in Him. We should approach Him in humble reliance on His grace as we seek not merely the blessings but the one who blesses.
4. Resolve For Christ’s Sake
“So far as they are agreeable to his will for Christ’s sake.” We cannot resolve to do anything with a presumptuous attitude before God. The whole matter of making resolutions is not just goal setting so that we might have happier lives. We are called by God to live according to His will, not our own — for Christ’s sake, not our own — for it is not unto us but unto Him that all glory belongs (Ps. 115:1).
Adapted from Burk Parson’s contribution to the January 2009 issue of Tabletalk, Resolved by the Grace of God.
Reprinted from the Ligonier Ministries Website