Fitness goals, financial freedom, read more, relate better, travel more, work harder. In the beginning of each year, we get caught in a whirlwind of resolutions with high hopes and great enthusiasm. This is because we have always perceived New Year’s Day as an opportunity or motivation, perhaps a transitional time, to look back and plan forward — reflecting on the things we have done right, the things we could have done better and the things we should throw away. And then clasping our planners close and deciding, yet again, whether to revive or revise a set of attainable and challenging resolutions — with a personal desire to have and do things differently. By differently, I mean better or more. By better or more, I mean rightly all together.
I recently created my own list of New Year’s Resolutions. I have to be honest though, I got so excited preparing and planning such list that I did not even consider praying to and consulting God about it first. I had my initial list on Monday, added some items the next day and wrapped it up before the week ends.
So how did the list go? It was nothing but a worldly and self-centered to-do list (e.g., “Launch this xyz project”, “Enrol to these xyz self-improvement courses”, “Pursue this xyz venture”), intended to just make me feel satisfied — as if I can get that without God’s direction and leading — and unfortunately, glorified — as if I have the right to take any credit from God’s hand.
It was garbage. My heart was tuned in on “What can I achieve in 2018?”, instead of “Lord, what is Your will for me in 2018?”. I wanted things and circumstances to be ticked off without putting and prioritising God in the picture.
This had me thinking: If New Year’s Resolutions vacuum us to a short-sighted belief that our finite human efforts and willpower can determine how a year can happen in our favour, should it really be that necessary?
I think that God is more concerned about our heart motives and faith in Jesus than what we are trying to achieve or resolve for the year. He is far more concerned in making our lives Christlike than us just creating a long list of things we would like to do or avoid.
And so, I think that New Year’s Resolutions are not really necessary. I think that we should spend more time reflecting on His presence, His will, who He is and what He has done for us instead.
In 2017, I began the year with John 15. I claimed the word of God in verse 5 which says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” God used this verse and chapter not only to show me how I can remain in Him but also why I should. I thank the Lord for the inward brokenness and fruitful outwardness in the year that was. He was, is and will forever be my Vine!
This year, I spent the first 10 minutes pondering on Isaiah 42. Verses 6, 7, 9 and 16 personally spoke to me. It says:
 I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,
- Verse 6 tells me the He is my Lord, and the Lord of Lords called me in righteousness. And more than this privilege, He has promised me that He will take hold of my hand and that He will keep me as a promise and light.
 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
- In verse 7, God straightforwardly tells me what His will is for me: that is, to have love and compassion for the lost. In essence, to have the heart and mind of Jesus Christ.
 See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.
- Verse 9 reveals to me how God cares. He wants me to learn from, not be stuck on, the things that has happened. He also wants me to look forward to the new things He has foretold and will fulfil which is in verse 16.
 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
God’s presence and word, I believe, are far more valuable than any New Year’s Resolution. And as Dr. Chuck Betters puts it better: “The Holy Spirit, not a New Year’s resolution, is the Agent of meaningful transformation in our lives.”
So perhaps, instead of creating a list of New Year’s Resolutions, we can look into creating a list of God-inspired Life Resolutions.
Jonathan Edwards, and American revivalist preacher, shared a classic article in 2006 entitled, “The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards”. He made a list of life resolutions in a way that is not traditional but God-inspired. In fact, his writing starts with a, “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.”
His life resolutions are divided into seven parts: Overall Life Mission, Good Works, Time Management, Relationships, Suffering, Character, and Spiritual Life. If you would like to have this as your resolutions-peg, you may read the whole article here: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-resolutions-of-jonathan-edwards
Happy 2018, my friend! I hope that we will resolve to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).