RESOLUTIONS: What are they good for?

As usual, I'm starting off this year by listing some New Years resolutions. I'm going to eat healthier, exercise more, learn a musical instrument... the list goes on and on. But what will I actually accomplish from this list?

Most likely, nothing.

You see, I do this every year. I create a list of things which I don't normally do, but think I should do, only to discover that if I'm not doing it already, there's a reason (usually that I'm just too lazy!) But the fact I consistently make these resolutions got me thinking:

Why do we do this?

I think most people fit into three categories:

  • People who make lists and keep them.

  • People who don't make lists.

  • People who make lists and never keep them, but feel better for the fact they made the list in the first place.

I definitely belong in the last category, that's for sure.

The first two groups of people must be very happy. Those in the first group go off, making their little lists, ticking off their accomplishments one after the other, while those in the second group don't make lists and don't really care. But for those of us who would quite like to accomplish some of those things, impossible as they might seem, the whole thing quickly becomes a bit depressing.

So why do we do it? What is it that makes us think there is always something we can do better, or make more time for, or at least begin? Something that will magically change our lives into tales of perfection where we always remember to do our homework and drink eight glasses of water a day? The truth is, we often look to things other than God to make ourselves feel better about our lives, whether we're Christian or not. We often make little idols of different things, thinking if only we had this or that, if only that guy liked us, if only we could get that job, or get straight A's, then we would be happy.

The Bible, however, has something to say about this way of thinking:

"Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand." Proverbs 19:21

In other words, we have plenty of ideas of what would make us happy. Too many, in fact. And we often look to these ideas and focus on trying to make them work, making lists and resolutions even if we secretly know we might never see them happen, because it makes us feel better about our lives.

But God tells us to pay attention to His words, His counsel, instead of our own. Instead of making little gods out of things we want to happen, thinking that they will be the source of our joy and make our lives complete, God reminds us to get back to what's important. His counsel will always stand, it won't get knocked over flat at the end of every year when we realise that we've obsessed over things that aren't actually that important.

This New Year, let's look back over what we've done and assess it in the light of what God would want us do. How does it measure up? Has God even played any part in our lives at all this year, or are we acting like He doesn't even exist?

The best resolutions - the ones that are good for something - are the ones that focus around God's ideas for us, and not just our own plans.

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