New Year's Resolutions

Misplaced Hope

By Denise M. Kohlmeyer

The Series

Misplaced Hope
Godly Resolve

New Year's resolutions. They speak of a fresh start, of leaving the past behind and beginning anew. Resolutions are forward-thinking. Future-oriented. They hold forth the promise of change, of something different. Something exciting. Maybe even adventurous. But, ultimately, of hope.

This is what, deep down, really draws people to make New Year's resolutions, I think. Hope.

Hope of losing weight and being more desirable again, to themselves and in the eyes of others.
Hope of spending more time with loved ones and losing the guilt of workaholism and familial neglect.
Hope of getting out of debt and saving money for a vacation/retirement/a "rainy day."
Hope of getting more organized and avoiding the daily frustration of living in chaos and confusion.
Hope of giving up something (smoking, drinking, candy, coffee, etc.) and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.
Hope of trying something new/exciting (skydiving, photography, ballroom dancing) and getting out of the rut and ho-hum of everyday life.
Hope of _______________ (you fill in the blank)

These hopes are among the Top 10 resolutions people make every year. While there is nothing wrong or sinful about making resolutions, it's easy to see why so many people fail at keeping them. Misplaced hope. People put their hope in, of all things, themselves. Self-improvement. Self-absorption. Self-denial. And, then, when they fail to keep those resolutions (as most inevitably do), they experience self-loathing.

Self will always fail. Self will always disappoint in the end.

Something else I noticed as well is that all of these resolutions, these hopes, are temporary in nature. Earth-bound. Not lasting beyond death...if they last at all!

Not one of these resolutions has any eternal value whatsoever.

Not one of them promises any true, lasting hope, hope that will accompany us beyond the grave.

Not one of them draws people closer to God and salvation, or, for those already in Christ, into closer conformity to the image of our pre-eminent Brother, Jesus Christ.

That latter reason — into closer conformity to Christ — was what prompted me to rethink the world's idea of a New Year's resolution 17 years ago. While there is no Scriptural mandate for making New Year's resolutions, one could argue — albeit loosely — that there is some biblical support for this concept, based on Philippians 3:13: "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead."

There is also the idea that God is all about new beginnings (see article, "God is All About New Beginnings"). God doesn't want us to stay stuck in the past, particularly if it wasn't a good one. He wants us to move forward in our faith. To "press on" towards the prize of the upward call of Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). A New Year's resolution can be used as a tiny catalyst towards that "straining forward" and "pressing on."

To that end, I decided to make resolutions that were more eternal-worthy, resolutions based on one practical Bible verse that would refine my character, transform my thinking and my behavior, conform me more closely to Jesus Christ — a resolution that would have earth-bound blessings as well as lasting well beyond my last breath!

Since that decision in 2000, the Holy Spirit has faithfully impressed upon me a particular verse to study and apply to my life each year. Here's a sampling:

2001 — "Abide in Christ" (John 15:4)
2005 — "Walk in love" (Ephesians 5:1)
2007 — "Be conformed to the image of the Son of God" (Romans 8:29)
2008 — "Grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18)
2010 — "Be seasoned with salt (in my speech)" (Colossians 4:6)
2015 — "Know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19)
2016 — "Seek peace and pursue it" (1 Peter 3:11)

For the most part I have been faithful to keep them. Not perfectly, mind you, but to the best of my ability and with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Many of these resolutions have ignited a personal revival for me throughout the years, particularly 2007's. That year, God exposed many areas of my life which were not conformed to the image of His Son. It was quite eye-opening and painful in some instances. That resolution definitely left a particularly profound impression on me.

However, all of my resolutions have deepened my love for the Lord as He awakened me to the beauty of each verse. And my walk has subsequently been strengthened as I've applied these verses to my mind, my heart and my life.

That's not to say that other spiritual resolutions are bad. They aren't. They're wonderful. All eternally valuable as well.

• Reading the Bible more
• Praying more
• Memorizing Scripture
• Going to church regularly
• Increasing generosity with regard to serving and tithing

What I'm proposing is just one more idea to consider as a spiritual resolution, one that has worked well for me, and one I think might be of encouragement to you!

Next: Godly Resolve

Image Credit: Alexandru Zdrobau; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Celebrating-Holidays  | Christian-Life  | Personal-Life

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Published on 12-19-16