Resolution seems to be out-of-style these days.
If your social media looks like mine, it’s full of posts disparaging the setting of New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions set you up for failure, they say.
You know you’ll never keep them.
They are limiting.
Have goals, focus areas or “one words” instead.
Maybe I am just old-fashioned (a definite possibility!), but I still love making resolutions. After all, some of our favorite men of the Bible “resolved” to do something.
Daniel “resolved not to defile himself.”
Jehosaphat “resolved to inquire of the Lord.”
Paul “resolved to know nothing … except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
So what can we learn from these men to help us find resolutions worth making? Ones we can keep and that will honor the Lord?
Resolve to be in step with God
Daniel could have done the easy thing. Captured and enslaved in a faraway land and given an opportunity to impress the king, Daniel could have resolved to advance himself. It might have been natural to be compliant and get the most points for good behavior.
But not for Daniel. Daniel resolved not to defile himself. (Daniel 1:8, NIV)
He resolved to follow God’s principles and made the hard choice every day to eat only simple vegetables and water when the luscious feast and fine wine was in front of him.
Because Daniel’s resolution was in step with God, God stepped in. God gave Daniel the strength to honor his commitment and rewarded him with the favor of the king.
Resolve to be outwardly focused
Jehoshaphat was a strong king and had successfully led his army to win several battles. When he was informed that the Moabites and Ammonites were coming to attack him, no one would have been surprised if Jehoshaphat had called his advisors and devised an intricate battle plan.
But Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. (2 Chronicles 20:3, NIV)
Jehoshaphat knew that his actions impacted an entire nation. It wasn’t just about him. He gathered his people and led them to stand in God’s presence and cry out to him in their distress. Verse 13 says that all the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.
When we involve others to seek the Lord with us in our plans for the New Year, we recognize that our actions and our focus impact our family, friends and community. An outward focus brings accountability and support that we can’t get by resolving to achieve things on our own.
Resolve to do something new
The early Christian church in Corinth was in turmoil. They were surrounded by a society that worshiped idols, engaged in all manner of sexual immorality and glorified a life of excess. The Jewish leaders were still stuck in their maze of laws and sacrifices and trying to figure out their new normal.
No wonder these immature Christians were confused about how to live their new-found faith in a messed up world. Sound familiar?
But Paul resolved to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2, NIV)
A scholar himself, Paul could have relied on his past knowledge and lofty ideas. But to guide the Corinthians to a life completely dependent on Christ, he tried something new. He kept things simple and preached only faith in Jesus. No bells. No whistles. Just Jesus. Something new.
So go ahead.
Make some resolutions.
Or set some goals.
Or pray for “one word” of focus.
Whatever you call it, if you are in step with God, focusing on others and doing something new, it can be a year of God-honoring, faith-building, light-shining progress.