Today is the last day of the year, and as usual, it is a day when many of us re-evaluate our priorities in the past years and make resolutions to be better people and pursue better goals in the coming year. There’s something about entering a new year that gives one the impression of a fresh start – a clean slate. This feeling is further reinforced by the fact that everyone around us is talking about reasons to be grateful for the past years. It is a time when most people also re-cap on the failures of the past year, resolving to learn from them, do better and be wiser in the following year.
Yet, even with all the hullabaloo about the new year, experience, if nothing else, has taught us that nothing special or mystical happens at midnight December 31st. As Paul Tripp accurately notes,
“The reality is that few smokers actually quit because of a single moment of resolve, few obese people have become slim and healthy because of one dramatic moment of commitment, few people who were deeply in debt have changed their financial lifestyle because they resolved to do so as the old year gave way to the new, and few marriages have been changed by the means of one dramatic resolution.”
Does this reality then mean that we shouldn’t make resolutions? No, it only means that we should not expect the resolution to be some sort of mystical change-inducing supernatural force. This is not the first time we are making resolutions that we will find impossible to keep by January 5th. And we all know why they are difficult to keep. Most of these require more than a change of mind, they require deliberate action-plans that must be followed and adhered to. Some of these plans may take years to actualize. A resolution is an attitude, not an event. There’s nothing special about midnight December 31st. As a matter of fact, apart from the date on the calendar, a few coincidental birthdays and anniversaries, there’s usually nothing revolutionary that takes place at the turn of the year.
So, reiterating my point in the prior paragraph; does this therefore mean that we shouldn’t make resolutions? No, it means that even as we make resolutions, let us do it with a consciousness of what the truth about resolutions is and what is merely sensational mysticism. Like Christmas, let us not delude ourselves into thinking that there’s something about the date on the calendar. And like Christmas, let us not let our cynicism about the fact that Jesus was not born on December 25th cause us to disregard the fact that Jesus was born at all. Nothing uniquely and especially divine took place on December 25th at any point in history. In the same way, nothing uniquely and especially divine takes place at the turn of the year. So, let us be grateful for this means of grace that serves as a reminder to be resolute. Life can get too hectic for silent reflection. Most of us often just coast through life being resolute about nothing. The turn of the year is a providential opportunity to do what we ought to be doing every day of the year.
So, go ahead, make your new year resolutions with a guiltless conscience. Evaluate your life and seek out the things that you need to change. Then, by faith, seek to be transformed by the renewal of your mind, by the Word of God, by grace through faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let Jesus be the reason for your resolution. But never forget that you are living in a fallen world. Of course you will break many of these resolutions. But this is not a reason to look down in despair, but to look up in gratitude. It is not a reason to abandon a resolute lifestyle, but to pursue it even more confidently. For Jesus, through His perfect obedience, is the fulfilment of every failed resolution. So we keep resolving in gratitude, yearly, daily, hourly.
“Resolve to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
I pray that 2013 will be a blessed year for you all,