by Charity Starchenkco

One thing I have come to realize about New Year resolutions is that they are inherently self centered. It’s like a personal health and wealth plan. Lose weight, stop smoking, enjoy myself more, eliminate debt and you’ll be beautiful, happy and rich. As the new year approaches, people look deep and hard at themselves and make a list of things they want to change about their lives, and then set out to change it with gusto. But their enthusiasm wanes as it gets harder and harder to achieve their goals the and sacrifices necessary to achieve it are more painful than the desire to change. This is not a new problem. Ben Franklin made resolutions that he planned to live by, except that he called them virtues. 

ben_franklin

You see, Ben was really into the ideals of the French Revolution, one of which was that man could be perfected by discovering (through rigid observation of nature) the natural laws of the world and following them. It followed then that if man could be perfected, so could society. So it made sense that Ben would develop these resolutions or virtues. Who wouldn’t want to perfect themselves? He even took some of his virtues from the Bible. Here’s a few of them: Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates. 

This seems like a good plan at first glance. But the problem with Franklin’s resolutions is that they are self-centered. Franklin wanted to glorify and perfect himself. He fell victim to the lies of prevailing philosophy at the time, as John warns against in 4:1 of his epistle when he says to check ourselves against the prevailing spirits of the time. The same goes for us: We do not find strength outside of ourselves in diets or investment bankers. In fact, resolutions made apart from relying on God’s sovereignty in our lives, and made to glorify the created rather than the creator a total waste of time and energy. In the end, resolutions, the holiday symbol strength and empowerment are really a guaranteed failure that ultimately serve to point us to God. Franklin got as far as acknowledging his failure saying, 

“I enter’d upon the execution of this plan for self-examination, and continu’d it with occasional intermissions for some time. I was surpris’d to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish….I mark’d my faults with a black-lead pencil, which marks I could easily wipe out with a wet sponge. After a while I went thro’ one course only in a year, and afterward only one in several years, till at length I omitted them entirely, being employ’d in voyages and business abroad, with a multiplicity of affairs that interfered; but I always carried my little book with me.” 

His faults might have diminished in his opinion, but they were never eradicated in the eyes of God, and Franklin died believing himself much improved merely for the experience of it. But more importantly, he never paused to consider his failure outside of himself. He accepted it for what it was, but not Who it pointed him to. That’s the worst kind of self complacency a person could have. 

As Christians, we know instinctively that resolutions should be Christo-centric. Does that mean we cant have our own personal goals? NO! We should make goals for our lives. Our bodies are the temple of the living God and the spirit of God dwells in us. We should feel free to lose weight, be better organized, and eliminate debt. But we should do those things not for our own satisfaction and of our own volition, but because He enables us to do so and for his own glory!These are the ways in which we carry out God’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves, to spread the gospel, and pursue godliness with all diligence. Healthy bodies, organized households and a good financial footing are all intrinsic to helping spread the good news of Jesus Christ among all people to the glory of God

So if we make resolutions at all, what should they be? Let’s take ours from the Bible: 

We should resolve that “our chief end is to glorify God and (or BY! Thanks, John Piper!) enjoying him forever.” We can do this by resolving that: 

*Godliness with contentment is great gain! (I Timothy 6:6) 

*Easting drinking and doing all to the Glory of God alone! (I Chor. 10:31) 

*We will with God’s help, cast out idols of the heart and give glory to no other! (I Chron. 16:29) 

*Submitting joyfully to our husbands, parents, and church leaders. 

*We will seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness! (Matthew 6:33) 

Resolve that by God’s grace you will pursue Him wholeheartedly in 2009. Let nothing hinder you this year.

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