New Year's Revolutions

This time of year many people are making new year’s resolutions. One person resolves to lose weight, get in shape. Another resolves to save more money, get out of debt. And another resolves to quit a bad habit, such as smoking.

Of course, many new year’s resolutions are not kept. Some don’t even make it to February. And often this happens because what the person needed was not just a resolution, but a revolution.

A resolution is a determination to do something. But a revolution is a radical change. The reason people fail to keep their resolutions is that they don’t change what really needs changing. Like cultivating the self-control needed in order to eat less (or eat healthier), or the discipline needed to cut spending, or the conviction that a bad habit really is bad. And until those changes are made — until a revolution occurs in a person’s thinking — the resolution doesn’t stand a chance.

Maybe you’re thinking of the coming year and making some resolutions of your own, including some that are spiritual in nature. That’s great! But let me suggest that what you may need is a revolution — a shift in your outlook, your attitude, your priorities — before making good on those resolutions will be possible.

 Have you resolved to work on a bad temper, bad language, gossip, or dishonesty? Then you will need to face the fact that such things are not just undesirable, they’re sinful (Ephesians 4:26-31). Putting them away isn’t just a nice idea, it’s God’s expectation of you (Colossians 3:8). Making such a change means rooting out ungodly attitudes like jealousy, envy, and selfishness (Galatians 5:20-21; James 4:1-2). It may require changing your estimate of the value of others and learning to put them before self (James 3:8-10; Philippians 2:3).

 Have you resolved to quit drinking, smoking, overeating, etc.? That will require recognizing the sin of willfully harming your body and of letting something gain mastery over you (1 Corinthians 6:12, 20). And it will demand reaffirming God as your true master!

 Have you resolved to manage your finances better? It may be that your problem has been a twisted view of material things. A change will require accepting that life does not consist in an abundance of wealth, that covetousness destroys, and that God tells us to pursue contentment (Luke 12:15; 1 Timothy 6:8-10).

 Have you resolved to do better at work? Then you may need to reconsider who you truly work for. You will need the conviction that you serve Christ above all, that all your work is done before Him, and that the ultimate reward is from Him (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-24).

 Have you resolved to study your Bible more? Success may demand reevaluating why you study in the first place. “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).

 Have you resolved to attend more worship assemblies? That may require a renewed view of worship, and of the One you worship! “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).

It’s been said that the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. That’s just what many people will do in the coming year. They’ll keep making the same bad choices and clinging to the same bad ideas and attitudes as always, but they’ll convince themselves that this year the outcome will be different; this year they will bring fulfillment and happiness. That is crazy. Instead, God says, “Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” (Ezekiel 18:30-31).