Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
Why do we make New Year resolutions? More often than not, we invest our time and resources in ill-conceived goals that often set us up for failure. So who’s to blame for this madness? Retailers? According to historians, the Babylonians were the first to make vows at the beginning of a new year. Under oath to their pagan gods, they would promise to repay their debts and return borrowed items to fellow citizens. The Church adopted a form of New Year’s resolutions when Medieval knights would take a “peacock vow” at the end of their Christmas season to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. While these are worthy causes, the source for which the hoped to fulfill their vows was misplaced in either foreign gods or in self.
Okay, then does the Bible have anything to say about resolutions? Not directly, but there are a few verses of Scipture that apply to the concept. Probably the best example is from the book of Joshua. After Joshua had led the nation of Israel into victory over their enemies, it was time to transition from the hype of conquest into a settled, ordinary life in the Promise Land. Joshua knew the risks of losing focus on the source of their blessings. That’s why he challenged his people to choose who they would serve:
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Israel would eventually become destracted and turn their hearts away from Yahweh toward foreign gods. We face similar risks when we lose focus on the object of our faith: our risen Savior. But with the aid of His Holy Spirit, we too can resolutely declare that we will serve the Lord—not perfectly, but faithfully. That’s a resolution worth making! All God’s best to you this New Year!