When our daughter was about five years we discussed the concept of New Year resolutions. She had heard people mention it, heard the idea in sermons and asked me what it meant. I explained that at the beginning of a year many people reflect on their life and determine what they will do different and what they will improve on to make the next year better. She seemed satisfied with that explanation and went on to play. Later I asked her if she had made a decision about a New Year resolution and she said, “Yeah, I’m going to eat more chocolate!” I was shocked and told her that she must have misunderstood me, resolutions were made to improve our lives, to make a new start, to make things better, make us happier. She listened, then replied, “I like chocolate and if I eat more chocolate, I will be happier and my life better.” I thought for a moment and realized it was hard to argue with that, I couldn’t honestly disagree.
For many of us, the New Year brings a feeling of renewal: anticipation of endless possibilities ahead and countless opportunities. We believe that the New Year will be whatever we want it to be. We resolve to cast off bad habits, lose weight, get in shape, start a new hobby, travel, spend more time with friends and family, etc. Our television commercials for weight loss pills, exercise equipment and cruises are a testament to our attitudes of how the New Year gives us a fresh start to do whatever we failed to do in the previous year. However, for many of us, as we resolve to make changes, we might not consider our spiritual well-being. We might consider how to relax more this year, how to eat healthier and exercise more for our physical well-being, but are we reflecting on and considering our spiritual health?
I read the Old Testament more closely than ever before this past year and was struck by how often our Lord asked us to remember… (Ex 20:8, Num 15:39, 15:40, Deut 5:15, 7:18, 8, 15: 15, 16, 24, 32:4, etc!)…to remember Him, remember the blessings He gives us (Spiritual: Eph 1:3 and physical: James 1:17), remember the sacrifice He gave (“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8).….Remember (II Tim 2:8)! I believe our God understands how easily distracted we become and how easily we forget, forget the important things: how much thought it took for Him to create this beautiful world for us (Gen. 2:2), the disappointment He suffered as His creation rejected Him (Gen 2:11-17, Gen 6, I Sam 8, Matt. 27, etc.), the pain His creation caused Him when all He asked was for us to say thank you in humble obedience and worship (Ex 32, I Pet 2:7, Ecc 12:13).
So, as we make our resolutions, reflect on our past year, consider our weight loss programs, our vacation spots and resolve to relax more for our physical comfort, how can we neglect the most important reflections: considering who made it all possible….the bountiful food, the beautiful cruise destinations and make the most important resolution of all- to serve the creator, not the created. Shouldn’t we determine first to consider our spiritual walk (“put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created Him.” Col 3:10b) before we resolve how many walks we will take to better our physical health? Shouldn’t we determine that we will attend the Lord’s assemblies, all of them, and make the church He purchased our priority (“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching” Heb 10:24-25.) before we determine where we will spend our two week vacation destination this year? Shouldn’t we resolve to walk the straight and narrow path (“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”Matt. 7:13) before thinking about which path we will choose to walk in our neighborhood, and how far we will need to go to lose weight? Shouldn’t we think about how much time we spend in the word of God (“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” II Pet. 1:2-3) before we decide how much time we will spend with strangers on a cruise?
I shouldn’t have been surprised when my daughter said her New Year’s resolution was “to eat more chocolate.” I mean, she is my daughter. But, I have never forgotten her resolution because it reminds me that her goal was to be happier, to make her life sweeter. To me, resolutions to lose weight and exercise are always resolutions destined for pain, misery, and disappointment, but adding something that enriches my life is always something to look forward to, something positive. I pray that we will consider what will enrich our eternal lives first before we consider what is worthy of adding to the richness of this earthly life in 2012 (“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt. 6:33).