A few years ago I read an article indicating that there was a high percentage of people who quit working on their resolutions no soon after they had made them. Having a vivid goal, a clear formula for its achievement, the means accessible, and some enthusiasm, there is a tendency to think that the end result should always spell SUCCESS, yet so many failures occur even with thorough preparatory work.
It is worth considering the role of divine power in achieving resolutions since a power outside of oneself is needed to accomplish everything. Let no one be fooled that he or she is not dependent on God. Even if in the past you have made some resolutions, and managed to achieve them without divine direction, the wisdom and strength, nonetheless, came from God.
As a child, I memorized the Bible text which states, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [food, shelter, etc.] shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). It seems like a very reasonable request from the one responsible for my very existence. He’s not only saying that I should put His interests first and watch Him deliver on earthly benefits, but that there can be peace in knowing that infinite blessings are assured. Even though heavenly blessings are promised, God wants us to walk in His ways because it is simply the right thing to do.
When it comes to making resolutions to overcome evil habits, I have learned that it is powerless to do it on my own. Similarly, developing great habits that have transforming effects on my spiritual life have been a battle. It all requires cooperation with Jesus. It is He who gives the desire to have a pure life, so He is always ready to give the power and grace that He possesses to transform a life yielded to Him. Often the good resolutions made that would significantly impact spiritual growth are broken because no amount of self-determination can bring good results. Dependence on God is essential.
Unfortunately, when failure in achieving resolutions is repeated year after year, it is etched in the mind. Yet, we continue to resolve to make a change with the coming of each year. The battle often begins with negative thoughts. What is going to be different this time? How many times have I already tried and failed? I feel helpless. I feel alone. I wish I could just get it right for a change. Without us even recognizing it, the stage may already be set for failure.
As if it’s not enough to battle with negative thoughts, there are distractions everywhere. In an age of technology, there’s enough to stimulate us on our personal cell phones, computers or televisions. Whether we are at a restaurant, the mall, the hair salon or the gas station, it may be difficult to get away from the media. There’s enough to engross the mind to steer us away from the things that are really important.
On top of all the distractions that far exceed just technology, there are ideas and theories that we are privy to that influence our resolutions, our choices. Self-actualization, which involves reaching the zenith of our potential, is at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There’s also the theory of ethical relativism which denies universal objectivism, rendering a right or wrong action dependent on the norms of a particular society.
We may even be oblivious regarding the basis for making our resolutions. If we are honest, at some time or another, we have bought something tangible simply because it was popular. The advertisers score big, for generally it means we were lured when the product was being flashed on television screens or billboards, or seen in magazines or anywhere advertisements are permitted. Though such an action may not gravely impact you, it’s important to be driven by the right motives.
There are many voices in the world calling us. Some cater to our supposed need to indulge the senses, perhaps to travel extensively simply to see other parts of the world. Other voices may be calling us to create a better financial portfolio or to turn a hobby into a career. What’s important, however, is that all you do should bring glory to God. Let all ideas of self-development be sanctioned by the Word of God.
Whether we resolve to stop procrastinating, to give services to the indigent or the sick, or to be more punctual, there should always be a higher purpose involved. It should be because of the need to reflect Jesus’ character. When He is central to our lives, it follows that His purposes for us will be carried out, whether great or small.
The Bible expressly says that “without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). To seek Him is to genuinely try to discover His thoughts and ways by reading His Word, and trusting that whatever His will is for our lives, it will be communicated. God then works in us “to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).