When I was a young child in gradeschool, I can remember that every New Year’s Day, our parents required us to sit down and write out a brand new list of resolutions. I can distinctly remember putting down things like: 1) I resolve to read all the way through the Bible, 2) I resolve to be nicer to my siblings, 3) I resolve to obey my parents more than I did last year, etc., etc.
High school was quickly followed by college where I first began training for the ministry. I continued to make my new year’s resolutions but along with the read through the Bible resolution, now they seemed much more substantial. They included things like: 1) I resolve to keep myself pure, 2) I resolve to serve the Lord and give Him my whole life, 3) I resolve to spend more time learning to love God than I do in pleasing myself, etc., etc. Of course, now that I was in Bible college, I had to include some resolutions that would show to others that I was fully resolved to do better than I did last year.
Whether it was grade school, high school, or college, the truth still remained. Within two or three weeks after the 1st of January, I was normally back to where I was before. My “new” resolutions were but a distant memory and very little, if anything, ever really changed. I convinced myself that I was not a bad guy and that there were plenty of others who did not keep their resolutions so I was in good company.
Today, I no longer write out any resolutions and have not done so for several years. For me, as I imagine it is for others, it is actually little more than an exercise in futility. Whether we are resolved to read our Bible more, pray more, try to lose more weight, try to be better parents or children or preachers, or whatever we are trying to resolve, the solution will never be accomplished by more of me, neither will it be accomplished by more of you.
So what is the answer? Better list of resolutions? Try harder to work through our lists? Make sure we have an accountability partner to ask us every day if we are following through with our lists? I would suggest that while these may be of some help, it should not be where our focus lies as we enter 2012. All the resolutions in the world are not going to make us a better parent, spouse, child, student, preacher, believer, or anything else unless our focus gets completely off of us.
The answer to starting off 2012 better than any other year would be twofold. First, 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” So, the reality should not be that we are seeking to write more resolutions in order to accomplish something great. Our first and foremost goal should be single-mindedly to do ALL to the glory of God! If my first focus is on what I can accomplish with my own resolutions, then I will miss what should be the main focus of every true believer.
This will take the guilt off of my life when I fail so miserably, as I am sure I would do. However, if my focus becomes more of God and less of me, my strength will be found solely in Him. I will then be able to say with Paul, whether in life or in death, I am the Lord’s. When I seek to become more focused on God, then my life will soon reflect what God has in store for me. He will direct my paths when I seek to acknowledge Him in all of my ways (Prov. 3:5-6).
Secondly, Ecclesiastes 12:13 concludes, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Where should the resolve be for the true believer? Should it be focused on what I think I can do to a better person this next year? Should it be to try and come up with better resolutions that I will actually fulfill knowing that I have not met any of my previous ones? No, the answer is that if this is to be a better year, my goal MUST be to fear God and to keep His commandments. When God becomes preeminent in our lives, we will seek to love Him. If we love Him, we will keep His Word and obey Him. We will desire to obey and love Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind.
So, this year, I will again choose not to write out a list that I know I will fail in keeping. Another year has dawned and I could choose to dwell on all my miserable failures, but I will not. I will not do so because it would be another exercise in futility. I cannot change anything about the past, but I can look to the future. Another year has dawned and like the full scope of my life, only what’s done for Christ will last.
However, I will pray that I will learn to take just one day at a time. Additionally, I will resolve that as I lay my head down on my pillow tonight that I will do so with the thought that I must fear God and keep His commands. My prayer will be that God will find me faithful in this one area. When that happens, I won’t have to worry as to whether I am keeping my list of resolutions. I will know that my life is bringing glory to God and whatever I strive to accomplish will be within the framework of His will for my life. As I move through 2012, my prayer will be that in this Christ will find me faithful. If He finds me faithful, I will not have to fear being a failure with a mere list. My whole life will reflect that “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Instead of being another year of me, it will be a new year – a year for God and God alone.
We conclude with the hymn from Frances Havergal.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.
Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in Heaven, another year for Thee.
Thank you for this word, TJM. So true (and timely).
“Fear God and to keep His commandments.”
Something we should never forget but often do.