“Should a Christian make New Year’s Resolutions?”
After all, doesn’t the very idea of resolution-making suggest one’s belief that a firm resolve of the will is all that is needed for one to begin to do or stop doing a thing? Yet Jesus teaches us “apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
Paul found this to be true and confessed, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out… I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Rom. 7:15, 18-19). It seems that for Paul all his “resolving” accomplished nothing!
If we ‘by our own selves can do nothing’ then what is the point in making any New Year’s resolutions?
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me…” Paul cried (v. 24) Not till he surrendered his resolution-making – let go and let God — did he learn “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)
So what’s the deal here? Can I do NOTHING or can I do ALL THINGS?
Two questions must be confronted here:
1. What is my motivation? — Is it for the glory of God, or self?
2. What is my power? – Is it by the working of the Holy Spirit within me, or by my own mortal strength?
Jesus, as always, is our example. Ponder His statements regarding His own incarnate ability:
“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does… By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5: 19, 30)
When the apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin for preaching the gospel of Christ a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel cautioned the assembly against acting rashly. He reminded them of others whose endeavors had come to nothing, then advised
“Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39).
The flesh fails; the Lord brings victory!
“Commit your way to the Lord;” wrote David, “trust in Him and He will do this” (Ps. 37:5). When we do, we find as Paul did that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37).
Resolutions made and carried out on one’s knees are the best for believers to begin.
Check out godly resolutions by great men of faith like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitfield and others. Be inspired to “find out what pleases the Lord” (Eph. 5:10) and resolve to give yourself more fully to Him.
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)
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