New Year’s Resolutions are typically man-made ideas powered by foundation-less processes. The point? You will never change yourself.
There’s a simple reason why these ideas we call “New Year’s Resolutions” do not work. Perhaps even as you’re reading this very statement, something you wanted to try along such lines has already failed, or at least buckled? It’s of course not bad or wrong to desire…to resolve to change a personal behavioral pattern. That should absolutely be the case for all true followers of Jesus Christ. All should seek to change, to be more and more sanctified…more like the Son of God. But clearly the deceptive, sinful human nature tends to cause believers to begin journeys in the completely wrong way.
Resolutions, let alone NYRs, in general are man-made ideas driven by the engine of man’s foundation-less processes. They originate in the sin-tainted minds of people who ignore the reality that they’re not as wise as they think they are. Motivation to stick with the actions required to bring about whatever change is desired is typically artificial at best. It doesn’t matter what the kind of change is either. Whether it’s something exercise-related, or spiritual, what believers need to remember is that God’s Word never once tells us to make a knee-jerk, emotional decision based on a silly calendar day in order to become more like Jesus Christ. In fact, God’s Word makes it very clear that change is a process, and trying to go about it apart from Himself is impossible. Just take a gander at John 15:5 and Matthew 19:26.
I understand that in the Matthew bit, Jesus wasn’t speaking to behavioral resolutions, but I think the principle applies just as well.
And look at the many verses below that speak to the way of man, OT and NT.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. Good sense wins favor, but the way of the treacherous is their ruin. In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.
The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.
The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
I Corinthians 1:27
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
I Corinthians 3:18
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
There’s a clear repetition in the verses above. They certainly don’t all mean or discuss the same things, but nonetheless there’s a collective theme that trying to do anything apart from God is foolishness and ultimately won’t work.
What I want to help you understand as 2014 kicks in to full swing, as God has surely helped me, is that change is a process. It’s a process that involves understanding and applying what God wants, and how He says life ought to be lived. And it’s one that is arduous, oftentimes discouraging, frustrating, and requires a whole lot of day-by-day sin confession. Don’t forget the tools of God’s grace either. Prayer; faithfully reading God’s Word; reading books from authors you trust and relate to; spending time with other believers and sharing your struggles with them; accountability groups; etc. These concepts factor in to real change, into real reform of sinful behavioral patterns (i.e. turning from your sin pattern to sound faith in Christ and His righteousness), and so many more could be included. Ultimately, change is supernatural, which is why the natural man is incapable of bringing it about, at least not in the way that God’s Word describes. What man does can only ever be external and temporal at best. What God does is internal, and it lasts forever.
As you endeavor to change in 2014, don’t forget that if the process doesn’t start with Jesus Christ, it is guaranteed to fail. Let us encourage each other in what real change looks like (John 15:5).