4 Christian Principles for Making New Year's Resolutions
- Meg Bucher Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2017 28 Dec
Resolutions are strategic reminders for our repentant hearts. As Christians, they should be set in place to progress of the will of God in our lives. Before compiling a new list of goals, celebrate each step of progress that was made in the last year. Pay homage to the work God has done in our lives, before surging onto the next stage of growth. Giving God glory in worship for the accomplishments we achieve is a necessary element in the Christian attribute of fostering a grateful heart. Taking our failures into account, as well, shines light into the areas of our lives where prayer for clarity is needed.
Through it all, God is guiding us. Jesus is walking with us, promising never to leave us. Prayerful consideration of the counsel of our good Father prevents needless brain-wracking and unreasonable goal-setting. His will is always in our best interest. The Voice paraphrase of Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that He promises to do more than we can ask or imagine in our lives. He can not only help us with our resolutions, but holds the key to the progress that will usher His peace into our lives.
“Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory…” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
1. Who Were We?
When entertaining the thoughts and dreams of who we want to be, it’s helpful to remember who we were. Our past paths are littered with the Father’s love, His helping hand, and His guiding light. In looking back, we can recognize the path that we’re on much better than straining forward to see the road through the fog ahead. God has been where we are going. He permeates time. We can take comfort in His care for us, and listen steadily through the trials and triumphs of the last year, allowing them illuminate our next surge forward.
A complete hand-off of our lives into Christ’s capable hands leads to reasonable resolution. We can goal-set our way to success, riches, fame, mansions, vacations, promotions, and retirement investments without consulting Him. But no vast accumulation of wealth or experience this side of heaven can equate to the soul resting peace of His will for our lives. Prayerfully seek God’s request, before laying prayers for plans at His feet. Be careful not to disqualify stirrings and nudges due to feelings of unqualification or unpreparedness, for He will equip and prepare us for the achievements that await us.
2. How Do We Ask God for Guidance?
Praying over our lives in daily chair time with God is not only to seek direction, but to ask that our territory be expanded! We were each purposed with distinction, layered with talents and gifts.
Jabez, who’s very name sounds like the Hebrew word for pain, is mentioned amidst a genealogical list in the Old Testament. “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain’” (1 Chronicles 4:10). One verse is given to this whole mans’s life, putting the fragment of time we’re gifted on this earth into godly perspective. “But despite his hard-luck beginning, he was honored because of his relationship with God. This was a valuable lesson for a people struggling with their own identity“ (NIV Quest Study Bible Notes).
The path of God’s will for our lives is illumined by our quest for wisdom in His Word, and relational knowledge of Him through our prayer life. The joy of the Lord is that He seeks a relationship with us. Jesus was born on earth in human skin, driven by His compassion for us. The glory we give back to God shines through the accomplished path of His will in our lives. Through the obedient work we foster through His gifts and blessings, we get to work in tandem with an our almighty God. “And God did just that” (1 Chronicles 4:10). The last phrase of this verse about Jabez provides a peak inside the joy that it brings God, to bless us with fulfilled prayer requests when according to His great will. His heart is moved by faithful prayer.
3. Keep it Real
New Year’s Resolutions can be successfully written and wound into the tapestry of successful steps on our path to the purpose God knit into our souls if we keep them real. Wishing on someone else’s star will not do our lives any good, even if the request we yearn for does come true. We want what God wants for our lives, and there are two very important goal-setting steps that can guide us there. Now that we know how important it is to have a relationship with our Savior Jesus, and be prayerfully in dialogue with Him over the will for our lives, we can take our pen to paper and employ these actions.
First, pick one big thing for each new year. Reaching for too many giant life changes at once will set us up for failure. If we have a list of ten resolutions this year, one should be a big life change. The others should compliment this change or maintain changes of past year’s resolutions.
Second, seek to see the year in steps. What steps can we make in different areas of our lives that will eventually lead to big change over time? Break life into categories of friendship, parenthood, marriage or relationships, education, career, hobbies, etc, and seek to add a small goal to some of those areas. For example, if my one big goal is to train for a marathon in the next year, some of my smaller goals might be to eat more protein and drink more water each day.
4. Be Open to Adjustments
Human imperfection riddles our lives, and all of life around us. But so does God. He permeates life in an incomprehensible way that reflects His love and goodness. When we run into a frustrating bump in a goal we’ve been striving for, it’s ok to adjust the path of our progress rather than quit and run. Dreams are God-placed goals, but the end goals do not always look like the dreams we run away with. Staying in constant check with the progress we are making helps us to match our feelings to our productivity.
Sometimes, great progress can feel like failure, and vice versa. Paul wrote this to Timothy in a season of discouragement for the young mentee amidst a people losing their center on Christ: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Though we may not all be called to teach the gospel, like Paul and Timothy, we are all called to share and reflect it daily.
When we walk through life allowing ourselves the approval of being loved and accepted by God for who we are right now, we enable His will to flow more freely through our lives. Failures begin to look like U-turns that save us from making dire mistakes. Successes reveal the miracle of persistence that we were able to pull through stages and chapters of hardship laced with miracles. Life is hard. But Jesus has conquered it. With Him, life ends in eternity. Let our resolutions focus on the joyful work we get to do for Him until He calls us home. It will be hard, but it will be joyful, too. We were made in His image, to celebrate when we check a goal off for His glory.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/cn0ra
Meg encourages others to seek Him first through her life as a stay-at-home mom, career as a freelance writer, teaching Emotimoms Weekly Bible Study, and leading the kids worship teams at her local church. She resides in a small, Northern lake town with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Goldendoodle. Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, http://sunnyand80.org.