There is something about the turn of the year makes you want to do things differently- whether it be developing a new habit or trying to stop old ones. As we look on the year ahead, it is easy to get swept into the frenzy of making long lists of resolutions we hope to keep.
However, one might question if making resolutions is even biblical. Afterall, the word doesn’t even appear in the Bible. Also, is it not presumptuous to think that we are in charge of our lives- we don’t know what may happen tomorrow. Whilst these may be true in some sense, there are instances of where God’s people planned or purposed for the future. One clear example is the story of Joseph who informed the king to stockpile the country’s resources in preparation for the coming famine. Aside from preparation there are other examples of people determining to do or not do something. Job purposed in his heart to ‘not look upon a virgin’ (Job 31:1). But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank’ (Daniel 1:8). So whilst the word may not be explicitly written in the Bible, there are many examples of it.
In the past, I have written long lists of resolutions ranging from my walk with God to small things like smiling more. Whilst I must confess that I fail at these resolutions every year there have been a few which I have been able to stick with. In considering why those were successful here are a few things I think is most helpful when making resolutions:
1. Pray, Pray, Pray
Proverbs 16:3 tells us to ‘commit your ways to the Lord and He will establish it. ‘When making resolutions, it is so crucial to acknowledge our powerlessness in doing anything without the help of God as well as our Father’s ability to make anything happen. Pray and commit each resolution to God and ask for his direction I and wisdom in making them
2. Be intentional- practical
This may be writing the resolutions down so that they do not just exist in the figment of your mind, but they are physical. Being practical may involve purposeful planning. For example, if you plan to eat healthy then perhaps buy those healthy alternatives rather than just avoiding the unhealthy options. If you plan to read the Bible more then perhaps setting aside 20 minutes a day where you determine that nothing will disrupt that time may be beneficial. Jesus’s analogy of cutting your arm off if it causes you to sin may be seen as extreme, however, it highlights the drastic methods we have to take to change.
3. Review frequently
Life is unpredictable at times. We are not in control of most things. As a result, when things do change, our resolutions may need to adapt. In the example of Bible reading, if your schedule changes, the time to read may need to change. Maybe you set yourself too high of a target, why not adapt it to your strength?
4. Press on
The reason so many goals fail is that as soon we miss a few days or fail a couple of times, we begin to be discouraged and we find that determination or fire we had at the beginning has dwindled down. Like Paul, we need to ‘forget the things of the past and press on’(Phil 3:13). You may have missed, a week, or even a couple of months, but what’s to stop you from picking up from where you left off.
Lastly, you may find that resolutions are not for you. Some people prefer to take it one day at a time and that is fine because we are under no obligation to make them.
By Erica Appiah