Are New Year’s resolutions scriptural? We have come to that time of year again when we begin to think about our plans for the future, including changes that we would like to make in the coming year. Is there anything wrong with making resolutions to spiritually improve? Not only is it not wrong, I want to encourage everyone to make spiritual resolutions – and to keep them!
When we think about planning for the future, it’s important to remember the James four principle. In James 4:13-17, James states that we should carefully and considerately make plans. He notes that there is a significant temptation to live day to day without remembering that every day is a gift from God – a gift that we are not guaranteed. So, as we plan, we ought to make sure that we consider the Lord’s will. We are supposed to remember that we may not be here tomorrow. We may not be here one hour from right now!
Taking that principle from James into consideration, we must also note that being a Christian can be hard work. Let’s face it, no one squeaks into Heaven on a whim. Being admitted into Heaven on the Judgment Day is all about God’s grace coupled with our faith and obedience to God’s word.
That’s why, in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul likens Christianity to a race in which runners are competing for a prize. He says that, in physical races, all compete, but one receives the prize. The New Testament makes it clear that everyone who is faithful to God will receive the heavenly reward (2 Tim. 4:6-8), but Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians chapter nine is that Christians should give deliberate, strenuous effort in reaching for the prize – just like the runner in the race who comes in first place.
So, should Christians make new year’s resolutions? Well, the Bible certainly encourages regular self-examination and good time management.
In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul said,
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.
We must constantly evaluate our spiritual lives. We know that we’re not Jesus, we’re not the Judge. However, we have the standard by which we will be judged and it’s important that we are constantly checking up ourselves to ensure that we’re in line with that standard.
Further, in Ephesians 5:16, the Holy Spirit says that we are to redeem the time because the days are evil. The idea in the verse is that we’re trying to snatch up the time from loss. It’s like when you drop your hat into the flowing river and you have one shot to recover it before the waters carry it beyond your reach and it’s gone forever. Christians don’t have any time to waste. We must ensure that we are being good stewards of our lives. What better way to do that than to set goals, or make resolutions?
Let’s wrap it up: It’s the second week of December. Now is a great time to take a minute to think about where you want to be spiritually and what you need to do to get there. But remember that James four principle. If you see an area lacking in your life – especially if your relationship with God isn’t what it should be – don’t wait until January 1 to correct it. Take action today to get closer to God.