By Richard Lim
New Year is always a special time for people to gather and celebrate the completion of one year and the beginning of another. There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January 1. Nothing mystical occurs at midnight on December 31.
For countless millions, the New Year is a time for self-improvement, in which things known as “New Year’s Resolutions” are created. Common New Year’s resolutions are commitments to quit smoking, to stop drinking, to manage money more wisely, and to spend more time with family. By far, the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, in conjunction with exercising more and eating more healthily. However, we all know that New Year’s resolutions are frequently made but often broken and they end up in failure.
The question is as Christians, what kind of resolution should we make? The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions, even among Christians, are in relation to physical things. These are good goals to set. But let us be reminded of Paul’s instruction to Timothy to keep physical exercise in perspective: “For bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come.”(1 Tim. 4:8). Spiritual goals are needed to be considered with utmost importance because of the significant value it can bring to our lives.
David’s 51st Psalm is a good reminder and appropriate way to start our New Year. Psa. 51:10-11, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” Start with a clean heart!! What a way to start! If we really want to be successful in our resolutions, our heart matters.
We are told in 2 Tim 2:21 “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” Let us lay aside the weights and sins that so easily beset us and run with endurance the race that is before us. Let us be encouraged to put away the distractions in our lives and persevere towards the goals and resolutions that we have made for the year 2019.
The point is many of us make New Year’s resolutions to pray more, to read the Bible every day, and to attend church more regularly. These are fantastic goals. However, these New Year’s resolutions often fail because there’s no sustaining power. David’s strength to persevere was in the Lord as he said Psa. 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” He asked God to uphold him with a willing spirit!
The psalmist says in 119:116-117 “Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope! Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!” For those of us who are feeble, let us be emboldened with Paul’s statement in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
John 15:5 declares “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” We are urged to rely on God’s strength to help us. In order for our resolutions to have any chance for success; God must be the center of the New Year’s resolutions. He will enable you to fulfill them, if our resolutions are according to His will. If our resolutions are not God-honoring and/or are not in agreement with God’s Word, we will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolutions.
Therefore, I would like to suggest that we pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) regarding what resolutions He would have us make. Also pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives us. Find an accountability partner within the congregation who will help and encourage us, for the Bible in Eccl. 4:9-10 declares, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” Finally commit it to the Lord, Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.”
Psalm 65:11 “You crown the year with Yourgoodness, And Your paths drip with abundance.” Indeed it is God who will crown the year with His goodness and abundance!!