New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year to you. So glad to be with you all in this setting. Little fun fact about

the New Year you may not have known. Did you know that the concept of making a resolution

in the New Year actually dates back a few thousand years to, we believe, historians

believe, the ancient Babylonians who whenever they had their New Year, wasn’t necessarily

in January, it was a little bit later on in what we consider the calendar year, they would

have this multi-day big blowout religious festival and the ancient Babylonians would

reaffirm their loyalty to the king, among other things. They would make vows to repay

debts that they owed and to return objects that they had borrowed from others. So there

you go, there’s a little fun fact for you in the New Year. Now the concept of resolutions

is something that people think about nowadays every time there’s a New Year and there does

seem to be something about the New Year that makes people think about a fresh start, even

though technically if you think about it, is really December 31st any different from

January 1st? We know that it’s not, but there is something about this new beginning, this

fresh start. So how should we think about the New Year and specifically about resolutions?

Now the Bible doesn’t ever specifically speak for the concept of resolutions, New Year’s

resolutions, but it doesn’t speak against it either. So we have some freedom with regards

to our decisions when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, but let me just give you some

thoughts here as we begin the New Year and as you sort of look to the year ahead. Whatever

our goals are for any New Year or at any time during a year, ultimately as Christ followers,

the main goal and the aim that we should have is to glorify God in all that we do. In 1

Corinthians 10 31, Paul is saying, whether you eat or you drink or whatever you do, do

it all for the glory of God. So whatever goals or resolutions you feel compelled to make

as a Christ follower, do it all for God’s glory. And if what you were aspiring to do

is not honoring to God or it is not in agreement with God’s word, you need to rethink those

commitments along the way. Now, a number of the resolutions that people make or goals

that people set in the New Year are naturally physical or non spiritual in nature, losing

weight or eating better or saving more money or reading more books or whatever those things

are. And those are fine. But when it comes to spiritual matters and spiritual resolutions,

motivations in those things matter as well, not simply to do something for the glory of

God. But think about it when you were trying to think, OK, I’d like to read my Bible more.

I’d like to pray more. I’d like to give more. I want to go on such and such a mission trip

or whatever those spiritual resolutions might be, typically in connection with a spiritual

discipline. Motivations matter there, too, because we want to make sure and I can speak

from experience on this. We want to make sure that our motivations are, again, to please

God and not to be legalistic in any way or to feel guilted into a decision. OK, I want

to read the Bible more so that God will love me more or accept me more. That’s not how

that works. We are saved by grace through faith alone and through Jesus finished work

on the cross. So any resolution that we make should be to glorify God first and foremost

above all things. Some other thoughts you should pray for wisdom anytime you are making

a decision. James 1 5 encourages us to turn to God anytime we need wisdom about anything.

But we also need wisdom not only for the goals to set, but also how we should go about fulfilling

the goals and the resolutions that God puts before us or that God lays upon our hearts.

Ask God for wisdom. We need to rely upon God’s strength. I can do all things through Christ

who strengthens me. We are to abide in Jesus. Apart from him, we can do nothing. So we are

to rely upon God’s strength. We are to also recognize that we are not to make hasty commitments

before the Lord. We looked at this a few weeks ago when our message is on the Sermon on the

Mount where Jesus is saying, let your yes be yes and your no be no. You don’t have to

add other things to add credence to your statements. We should be people who make careful, well

thought out, well planned commitments and then holding those as sacred before the Lord.

And when we do fall short, we need to confess that to God and we need to not be condemned

because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But we also should

not allow those things that we do better in when we are accomplishing our goals to allow

us to become puffed up or vain in any way. One of the beautiful things about the church

is also the ability to be able to find people who are like-minded, who can help hold you

accountable if you’re making a commitment or a resolution in some way. Share that with

somebody. Share that with another believer so that they can help pray for you and encourage

you and provide some accountability for you. But above all, above all, let’s commit our

ways to the Lord, as Psalm 37 encourages us to do. We commit everything we do as unto

the Lord and accepting and receiving the invitation that God gives to us and that we looked at

this past Sunday in my message, the invitation in the new year to pray and to listen to God

and to obey. Above all, let’s commit our ways to the Lord as we begin this new year.