Article by Pastor Adam WallerElder at GraceLife London
In this start of a new year, you just might be inclined to make some resolutions for the year 2020. It is not uncommon for people to make all kinds of promises to themselves of what they will accomplish over the next 366 days (it’s a leap year). These come in all shapes and sizes. But as Christians, our resolutions should not be as those in the world.
Our resolutions to live better in this life should not be based around conceitedness or selfish ambition. They must not involve waiting until the new year to confess and repent of any sin that we see in our lives. A Christian’s resolutions certainly can not put them in the path of temptation. And you should consider that any commitment should not be made carelessly as the Lord expects His people to keep their vows.
But beyond this, have you considered what kind of resolutions you should make as a follower of Jesus Christ. Here are some questions to ask yourself so that your resolutions are in line with the Lord’s will for you.
1. Does your resolution help in the pursuit of holiness?
The pursuit of holiness is central to being a Christian. It is the work that God begins in us at conversion which the Bible calls sanctification. The Bible constantly calls us to make holiness our priority as it is God’s will for us (1 Thess 4:3) and it is the character of our heavenly Father Himself (1 Pet 1:14-16). Therefore any resolution should be to that end.
2. Does your resolution help in the fight for joy in Christ?
The Christian life is a constant striving for joy in Christ in any situation at every moment. Constantly, the New Testament records the call to rejoice even in the most difficult situations (e.g. Matt 5:12; Phil 3:1; 4:4; James 1:2; 1 Pet 1:6). Does your resolution remind you of the surpassing joy found only in Christ and the life you have in Him.
3. Does your resolution help in the service of other believers?
Christians must prioritise serving other believers with the gifts that God has given them. In 1 Peter 4:7-11, using spiritual gifts to serve God’s people begins with understanding the imminence of Christ and that using spiritual gifts glorifies God. How do your resolutions lead to you being more useful to Christ’s body for the glory of God?
4. Does your resolution help in putting to death the deeds of the flesh?
Once a person is saved, they have an internal war going on between their sinful flesh and the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:12-13 tells us that this is a fight to the death and the evidence of our adoption as God’s children is if we are putting to death the deeds of the body. How does your New Year’s resolution help you have victory in the fight against sin?
5. Does your resolution help in knowing God better?
Knowing God is so foundational to being a Christian that Jesus defined eternal life as knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He sent (John 17:3). The way to know God is through His word and any plans in 2020 should include knowing the Bible because that is where we find a greater understanding of the God who saved us.
6. Does your resolution help in denying yourself to focus on Christ?
Jesus said that being His disciple includes denying oneself. This is to think nothing of yourself for complete focus on following Jesus even to death. Ask yourself whether your resolution helps in self-denial or is based on selfish ambition.
7. Does your resolution help in conformity to Christ?
The Apostle Paul said that his faith in Christ was the basis of his desire of conformity to Christ. That was actualised internally through the desire to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and to share in His sufferings, and to become like Him in His death (Phil 3:10). Striving to see the outworking of one’s union with Christ should affect what resolutions you make for the new year.
8. Does your resolution help in renewing your mind?
Progressing in the Christian life is predicated on thinking like a Christian. This is why the New Testament writers constantly address the need for a renewed mind that is in line with the thinking of Christ (Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 2:15-16; Phil 2:5; 1 Pet 1:13). How does your resolution help you to think in line with the Bible with discernment and wisdom in each aspect of life?
9. Does your resolution help in being a witness to the world of the resurrected Christ?
The Apostle Peter writes 1 Peter with an emphasis on keeping a good testimony before unbelievers. This is part of what can influence people to believe the Gospel as they see a life transformed by the resurrected Christ that you speak of. If there is something in your life that you are recognising has been a bad testimony, then confess that sin and make plans that help you live in consistency to what you believe.
10. Does your resolution help in thinking about eternal things?
How much did you think about eternal things in 2019? How much did you think that Christ may come to take you home or call you home at any time? How much did you remind yourself of the glories of heaven and the horrors of hell that people face every day? The Bible is not lacking in calling for God’s people to think more on what is to come as the basis for living in the present circumstances (e.g. John 14:1-4; Rom 8:18-25; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 John 3:1-3). Would not a greater focus on eternal things do more good to your soul than the trivial resolutions shared by the world?
May these questions assist you as you plan to live for Christ in the year ahead. Remember to persist in prayer, strive for holiness, and let all things be done for the glory of God.