Jenny was frustrated with her lack of energy. She decided after the holidays to make some drastic changes. First, she would go on an energy-boosting diet. Next, she would develop a sleep pattern that contributed to true rest. Finally, she would regularly use low impact exercise for a feeling of wellness. All of these things were great pursuits and she was excited about the possibilities.
It wasn’t long before too many late night projects tore at her sleep, too many business dinners undercut her diet, and, well, the exercise just went out the window on its own. Jenny just became part of the 80% of people who break their New Year’s resolutions by the second week in February. So let’s not make resolutions this year. I have another idea, a better one.
New Year’s resolutions started 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylonia. They were part of pagan worship when a person made resolutions to their gods. If people kept their promises, the pagan god would bless the year. If the person failed, they fell out of favor with the gods. This type of legalistic appeasement does not reflect our God in any measure.
God talks about resolutions, or making oaths. In Matthew 5:33-35 Jesus says, “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.” The priests and leaders had taken on pagan ways of appeasing God. Jesus tells us to be careful what we swear we will do for God because it is disrespectful of the God who created all things.
Instead of making outward-change resolutions that will produce guilt when we find we cannot fulfill them, why not look at what God wants us to do this next year. The God I know wants us to grow in relationship with Him. He wants our hearts, our minds, and souls. Then as we grow with God inwardly, we can see outward changes. The outward changes should not be the focus as much as the inward changes that will empower outward change.
When you were a kid, did you ever make a pinky promise? It was a promise that didn’t involve just words, but a joining of one person little finger to another’s to demonstrate the strength of the promise.
The Lord has made between 5,000 and 7,000 promises to us in the Bible. That’s an amazing number of assurances given by the only Being who can keep them all… and does!
Some of God’s promises do have conditions. But these conditions involve your character, obedience and heart toward Him. For example, Ephesians 6:1 tells children if they obey their parents and honor them, they will have a long and happy life. We should know any conditions to those promises we desire.
Is there a God promise you would like to see in your life this year? Perhaps there has been turmoil in your life and you would like peace–not human-made, temporary peace, but God’s eternal peace. Isaiah 54:10 promises, “‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
Wow! This verse promises God’s unfailing love, not ever being shaken, a covenant of peace, and His great compassion. Can you imagine the hand of God coming down from heaven and His pinky grabbing yours while He says, “I promise!”?
There are great advantages of letting God choose your promises. The first is that you won’t have to worry about all the excuses as to why you can’t fulfill your resolutions. Also, God’s promises are all “Yes” and “Amen”, it is settled and done. Finally, His grace is sufficient to fulfil every promise. His Holy Spirit will direct you along the way.
So, let’s get started! Spend some time this month asking God to direct you toward what He wants to see for His beloved child – you! Surround yourself with people who can hold you accountable to seek your God promise. Find a go-to scripture that deals with the promise. Each week, at least 52 times this year, set up a time of sober evaluation as to how God’s promise is working in your life. If there are conditions to your promise you continue to beseech His grace and guidance to take you along the journey toward fulfillment.
Have a most blessed and promising year ahead!