At this time of the year, people are making New Year’s resolutions. Weight Watchers is seeing a bump in their enrollment, and Nicorette’s first quarter earnings are looking good. People are promising themselves that 2015 will be the year they pay off their debt or get more exercise or reduce their stress levels or stop focusing on themselves and start helping others.
The most common intention on New Year’s Day is to lose weight. One woman thought she caught her husband taking a shortcut to weight loss when she saw him standing on the scale in their bathroom, sucking and pulling in on his stomach. Bemused by all of this, she said, “Honey, you know that’s not going to help.” To which he replied, “Sure it is. This way I can read the numbers.” Losing weight is a good goal, but isn’t it a little shallow compared to some of the things Christians ought to be resolving to do in the next year?
What is a resolution? We normally look at a resolution as a promise to yourself that, if kept, will make a better you. But is this the way Christians ought to make resolutions? When we make promises to ourselves, there is no outsider holding us accountable. That is why they are rarely kept. It’s human nature to perform poorly when nobody’s watching.
We are notorious for breaking resolutions. Twenty-two percent of resolvers fall off the wagon after a week, according to a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. And after three months, half the adults surveyed had called it quits.
What if we actually kept our resolutions? What if our congregation gave what was purposed for 2015? What if everyone who resolved to bring someone to Christ actually followed through with his intentions? What if every family that decided to improve its attendance continued to visit all the church services through the entire year? What if today’s attendance was our lowest of the year, and we started to build on it? What if we grew without the usual pattern of “two steps forward, one step back?”
For Christians, the key to keeping resolutions is to make deep, important commitments to God. It is not enough to make promises to yourself. You won’t keep them. Resolutions that are made to God, on the other hand, have staying power, if they are made sincerely. Fewer of us would break our promises if we considered that God was holding us accountable.
Jesus is the Lord of our lives. Our resolutions and promises ought to be made to him. He calls us to follow him and deny ourselves (Mt. 16:24). All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him (Mt. 28:18). He is “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36); the Father has put all things under his feet and has made him head of the church (Eph. 1:22-23).
Remember what you want to improve upon this year. Don’t forget the promises you have made to yourself and, more importantly, to God. Don’t lose your resolve!