Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year's Resolutions: What's the hype?

Image courtesy Just Midlife
New Year's Resolutions! (from now on NYR) Almost everybody comes up with one or more resolutions every year for personal improvements in the coming year, just to break those NYRs by the second week of the year! Why then even bother with NYRs? It truly seems to use up more energy making these NYRs than keeping them!

So, what is really the big deal about NYRs? Human beings are created for new beginnings. Just look at life. There are new births happening all the time! And, I am not just thinking of new babies. These new births happen in our own lives through the different phases of our lives.

Every year we witness the birth of a new year, but that's not all! Every morning with sunrise we witness the birth of a new day, with new possibilities. Through our own lives we witness these new beginnings when we start primary school, high school, university, a new job, marriage, children, and many more. Every time we enter a new phase in our lives we witness the birth of a new beginning!

These new beginnings could either create dread in our hearts, or excitement! It all depends on the perspective that we have of life.

It is because we were made for new beginnings that the start of a new year creates such excitement within us, and the fact that there could be new challenges ahead of us with brand new possibilities, that we come up with NYRs to challenge ourselves, and in essence, to create new possibilities for ourselves. We either want to lose weight, become fitter, read more, study harder, help more, spend more time with the family,...

Once we have reached the point that we no longer make NYRs (or any other resolutions), whether consciously or unconsciously, we more or less have stagnated in life, or we think that we have reached the zenith of life! Surely this is a dangerous place in life to reach?

Few people actually follow through with all of their NYRs, if any! For many it is just a way of convincing themselves that they could change their ways for a better future. Once the good feelings of a better future have set in, people return to their old ways and forget about those resolutions within a few days or weeks!

Of course, it is customary to look at NYRs this time of year, and who better than the king of resolutions, Jonathan Edwards himself! He has probably created the most God honouring 70 resolutions of all time! (more about Jonathan Edwards here, here, here, and here.) Edwards was only 19 when he wrote his first 21 resolutions. Here are some of his resolutions:
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God' s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance, in eating and drinking.
23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God' s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.
What made Edwards so successful in keeping these resolutions is that he intended never to forget them, and so read through them once every week!

Christians should never take NYRs lightly, since we are to continually walk in the sanctification of the Lord. While we can revisit resolutions for our lives annually, it would be better to revisit our walk with the Lord more regularly in gauging our growth in the Lord. God forbid that we stagnate in our spiritual walk! As Edwards wrote in his 3rd resolution:
Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
In all, may your resolutions aim at glorifying God and not self! As Christians, we have to remember that the chief end of man is to glorify God. May you resolve to make that your main aim in life!

The apostle Paul writes that "just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification (Rom 6:19)" and "we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:18)" The question in our minds at the start of a new year should be: Am I endeavouring to be a slave of righteousness, and am I being transformed into the image of Christ? It is to this end that we should be making resolutions!

So, at the beginning of 2011, think, and rethink your NYRs, and then commit yourself to bringing glory to God through them!

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