Christian New Year’s ResolutionsEssays, Featured — By Stephanie Nikolopoulos on January 19, 2011 at 6:00 am
- Pray without ceasing. Ever.
- Don’t watch secular television.
- Become a physically fit Proverbs 31 woman.
- Read the bible every day and nothing besides it.
- Go to church every Sunday.
Is there such a thing as Christian New Year’s Resolutions?
In “Does God Laugh at Our New Year’s Resolutions?” I argued against the provincial wisdom, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Having goals and working towards them helps us use the gifts God gave us, and though our plans don’t have to come in the form of New Year’s resolutions, January gives us impetus to plan and pray for our future. But what sort of “resolutions” does the Lord “require” of us, to use the terminology of Micah 6:8?
The New Kings James Version translation of Micah 6:8 says:
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
What does it mean to “do justly”? Dictionary.com defines “justly” as “honestly, fairly, deservedly.” Even though we know what the words of this verse mean, the implication, the practical application, is still vague.
The Message, which is a figurative translation by pastor and author Eugene Peterson, offers a paraphrase of the verse that is a bit more concrete:
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.
The part about the neighbor reminds me of Mark 12:28-31 (NIV):
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
My initial vision for this article was to suggest we use the new year to consider where we want to be by the end of the year and then come up with actionable goals to help us achieve that, while stressing that God needs to be the center of our plans and everything else will flow out of it. Yeah, I can be a little type A at times. I had in mind to write what I felt would be a rather helpful list of ideas for growing in the New Year and achieving our goals. To be honest, it probably would have been close to the same list as my sarcastic Christian Resolutions list above. Things like:
- Read at least one Christian classic. Mere Christianity might be a good place to start.
- Keep a prayer journal. See how God has and is answering prayers. Be thankful.
- Pray for career direction and purpose and for God to open the right doors at the right time. Write out professional goals for the next month, six months, year, five years.
- Make time for beauty. For example: experience first-hand the glory of church architecture.
- Spend less time trying to gain insight from shows like Millionaire Matchmaker and more time working on personal character by embodying the fruit of the Spirit.
I mentioned in my previous article that while we should have a plan for our life, we need to also be open to adjustments. As I was writing this, I had one of those moments where I realized I should reassess my surroundings (the verses I read) and switch gears (my thesis). Though I believe we are each created uniquely and that God desires to for us to reach our full potential this year by finding ways to use the gifts He gave us, we also all are part of the same body, and as such we should all be working toward the same resolutions.
Resolution: Look for and act on ways to love God with our hearts.
Resolution: Look for and act on ways to love God with our souls.
Resolution: Look for and act on ways to love God with our minds.
Resolution: Walk humbly with God.
Resolution: Love others.
There isn’t a formula to follow. There aren’t specific resolutions that we should all follow. How we live out these resolutions does in fact depend on our spiritual gifts and the will of God for our lives. Perhaps, this year we should ask:
Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord.