Editorial: Resolution Reflections

You were there five days the first week. But that was a month ago and you’re already questioning the one-year gym membership fees you paid. Or maybe you’re gazing into the pantry wondering how you’re going to consume all those diet shakes. You can hardly stomach another one.

Studies inform us that about 23% of people give up a New Year’s resolution by the end of the first week. That number climbs to 64% after the first month. A high percentage surrender on the second Friday of the month, fittingly called by some “Quitter’s Day.”

As helpful as it may be to determine why some drop out so easily while others are motivated to keep going, it may be even more beneficial to analyze what lessons can be learned from the resolutions we make, whether they begin after the clock strikes midnight on December 31 or any other day of the year.

One disappointing observation about our resolutions is that our goals tend to be purely material. Our bodies, budgets and bank accounts get most of our attention. It’s not that these might not demand careful consideration, but we tend to have an unhealthy obsession with the material while neglecting the spiritual.

Another reflection about our resolutions is that our lives tend to be needlessly restless. We never seem to be content with what we have. We want more – more money, more muscle, more friends, more limelight, more everything. Paul has a word for us: “I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing” (Php 4:11-12).[1] What was the secret of Paul’s contentment, or rather, who was the secret of his contentment? Paul tells us in the next verse: “I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me” (v13). That one was Christ. With Christ as Savior and Sustainer, we should be able to enjoy a satisfied life. Now this doesn’t mean we need to be content with our spiritual progress. We should always be pursuing godliness while at the same time accepting our earthly circumstances, trusting the Lord to meet our needs (v19).

Even if our resolutions do include spiritual goals, another observation is that our motives tend to be, sadly, self-centered. Making not-so-subtle hints on social media, we hope other believers will notice what prayer warriors we have become, or how rigorously committed we are to our daily Bible reading programs, how faithful we have been in attending assembly meetings, or how consistent we have been with family devotions. We need to make sure our resolutions – as well as our motives behind them – line up with God’s Word and our purpose to glorify Him in everything (1Co 10:31; 2Th 1:12), not so that we will be admired and praised.

So, if you’ve already abandoned one of your resolutions, this article isn’t necessarily intended to motivate you to get back at it but to examine the real value of your goals, which are, hopefully, worth far more than a membership at the gym.

[1] Bible quotations in this article are from the NET.