It is the time of year when we begin to make New Years Resolutions. Notice whats being advertised this time of year. Almost every other ad in the newspaper is for exercise equipment. I saw ads for weight-loss products, stop-smoking patches, and even a cholesterol-reducing product. There are lots of ads for financial planning. It seems this is the time of year when people want to make a new start.
Bender writes, "Why do we think about a particular day as a beginning of a new
year? In one sense, each day is like another, there is not a reason by examining days why one would be held more highly than another. But God recognized the need of people to have a sense of a new beginning at times, and this is reflected in the Old Testament. Each week ended with the Sabbath, and the day after the Sabbath was the beginning of a new week. He provided a Jubilee year in which all inheritances were restored, all slaves freed, and a new beginning obtained
He commanded a yearly day of atonement in which one could start over again freed from sin until the next year. So today we consider this the first Lord's Day of a New Year."
Galatians 6: 3-10
I want to look at eight verses in Galatians as our guide in keeping our New Years Resolutions. Looking at the shortness of this passage of scripture, we can use it as our guide in making Resolutions Keep them short. Or if you must make a lot of Resolutions, make a progressive list. Start with a few Resolutions, maybe four, and only after you have become successful with your first four, then take on Resolution #5, and so on. Sometimes we make very long lists which are impossible for us to keep, and then we become discouraged. It is better to keep the list short, or at least just work on a few Resolutions at a time.
I think many people have become discouraged from making New Years Resolutions because at one time in their life they took on more than they could handle. It is best to go slow. Remember Aesops Fable of the Hare and the Tortoise slow and steady wins the race.
For if any one thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
This verse tells us to not deceive ourselves. In other words, when you make your Resolutions, be realistic. Too often we make Resolutions that are bound to fail like I resolve to never lose my temper ever again, or I resolve to never say an unkind word to my family. These are all good ideas, but very unrealistic. Instead of resolving to never lose your temper, try resolving that the next time you lose your temper, you will apologize as soon as you come to your senses. After you do that for awhile, you might say, as soon as I lose my temper Ill try to say a silent prayer for God to help me. Next you might try, as soon as I lose my temper, I will count to ten before I say anything. Now all these are progressive, realistic goals. You can have wonderful New Years Resolutions, but theyre no good if you cant keep them. So remember, be realistic in your Resolutions.
But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
There are two kinds of Resolutions we usually make one to improve ourselves, the other to help others. In verse 4 is the first kind, the ones that improve ourselves. In verse 10 we will look at the other kind, the ones that help others. This scripture tells us to test ourselves. Sometimes its a good idea to examine our actions, our attitudes, and our personality. There may be areas that need improvement. God will help us, if we allow him to. So this is the next thing we need to do make Resolutions that will improve ourselves.
For each man will have to bear his own load.
This is the hardest part about New Years Resolutions dont blame others when you fail. This verse tells us each of us will bear our own load. If we drop our load, its our own fault. Its not because our spouse wasnt understanding enough, or our children were too troubling, or our boss was too big a nuisance. If we would accept responsibility for our actions, we will be more successful in keeping our Resolutions. So remember, dont blame others when you fail.
Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.
This verse is telling us about learning and teaching good things from the Bible. We need to pattern our Resolutions after Biblical principles. There may be things we would like in our life, but do they match Gods plan for us? We must base our Resolutions on what is spiritually important. If a New Years Resolution to buy a new boat this year means you will have to work such long hours that you neglect prayer, your family, and church, then this is probably one New Years Resolution that should be postponed. It is important that we pattern our Resolutions after Biblical principles.
Here are two sets of Resolutions that were made according to godly principles.
Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
New Year Resolutions for Christians
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
If we want our Resolutions to help us spiritually, we need to pray before beginning so that we may be guided by the Holy Spirit. Pray that God will help you to know what to work on this year. Isaiah 30:21 tells us, "And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." God will show us which way to go. Psalm 37:23 promises, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way." We can be confident that God will guide our steps when we pray for his guidance.
And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.
This is a great verse. No matter how discouraged you may become, dont grow weary in well-doing. In other words dont give up. Why is this? The rest of this verse promises, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. There will be times when you feel like giving up. You will want to quit trying, but dont do it. Stay firm to the task, and dont give up.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
This is the second kind of Resolution we make. We mentioned earlier in verse 4 that some of our Resolutions are for own improvement. Verse 10 encourages us to make Resolutions to benefit others. What could you be doing that would benefit others? How could you be a blessing to your family, to your co-workers, to your church? What do you think God wants you to do to make a difference this year? Our Resolutions should not just center on ourselves. But we should be willing to reach out to benefit others.
How can you keep your New Years Resolutions this year? Keep your list short, Be realistic, Make Resolutions to improve yourself, Dont blame others when you fail, Pattern your Resolutions on Biblical principles, Pray before starting, Dont give up, and Make Resolutions to benefit others. God will give you the strength, and he will help you to be successful.
This study on How to Keep Your New Years Resolutions © 1998 by
David Humpal. All Rights Reserved
Keith Bender: Beginning a New Year, electronic text, P. O. Box 359, Crab Orchard, KY 40419
Another Year: Frances R. Havergal
Edwards: The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1
New Year Resolutions for Christians, Skyline Church Bulletin, Jackson, Tennessee
Psalm 37:23 from the New King James Version © 1984, Thomas Nelson Publishers