Is it vain to make New Year’s resolutions?
Did you know the practice of making New Year’s resolutions started over 3,000 years ago with the Babylonians? Even back then, though the calendars looked different, there was something enticing about a new year, a fresh start, and a new beginning.
That being said, most people know there isn’t anything magical that happens between 11:59 on December 31st and 12:00 on January 1st. The first day of the new year isn’t any different than the day before, aside from the resolutions and intentions millions of people set.
The Bible doesn’t talk about the practice of setting New Year’s resolutions. Using our own logic and what we do know of the Bible and what it says, it’s safe to say there’s nothing inherently evil about them if we go about setting resolutions in the right way with the right goal in mind.
The most common New Year’s resolution (one I’ve set for myself many times) is to lose weight. This is followed closely by exercising more, quitting smoking, drinking less, and saving money. In the Christian world, lots of people set resolutions to read their Bible more, pray more, and attend church more regularly. These are admirable goals, but even the spiritual resolutions fail just as often as the physical, worldly resolutions.
There are a few reasons resolutions are broken so easily. First, vague goals like “pray more” or “save more money” don’t have anything tangible to measure by. How do you measure “more?” Did you pray longer than normal? More often than normal? What is “normal” anyway?
Secondly, and most importantly, there’s no power in a New Year’s resolution. Simply declaring you want to start or stop a behavior is meaningless without the correct motivation. Instead of starting with,”I should read my Bible more,” ask yourself, “Why do I want to read my Bible more?” I used to lead a small group of high school girls who would often say they want to read their Bible every day or pray every day. When I asked them why, more often than not the answer was, “I don’t know, it seems like a good thing to do.” Not surprisingly, that wasn’t a strong enough motivation for the girls to follow through on their goals. Only when their motivation changed from “because I should,” to “because I want to grow” did the girls see real change.
I’m reminded of John 15:5. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
In other words, if your New Year’s resolution lines up with scripture and is God-honoring, God will equip you to do good works to further His kingdom. However, if your resolutions are selfish or vain, you will not receive God’s blessing. That’s not to say you won’t accomplish your goal, but in the end, the victory will be hollow.
So, how can Christians go about making God-glorifying New Year’s resolutions?
1. Pray for wisdom as you consider what resolutions to make, and continue to pray for wisdom and guidance on how to fulfill those resolutions throughout the year.
2. Rely on God’s strength to help you, not your own vanity or willpower.
3. Find an accountability partner who will challenge and encourage you.
4. Expect slip-ups and failures and don’t let them discourage you. Learn from your shortcomings and turn once again to the Lord for His strength and wisdom on how to move forward.
5. Give God the glory for every resolution fulfilled. Don’t become prideful or vain, but instead use your success as a reason to bring recognition to the Lord.
Find out more about how Christians should view New Year’s resolutions in the video below!SKM: below-content placeholder