Have you ever found yourself singing a familiar melody on December 31 a bit unsure of of what “Auld Lang Syne” is or who exactly we’re supposed to pass a cup of kindness to? While song lyrics may be lost in translation for many, most people find themselves doing exactly what the song implies. For however brief a moment, we press pause on our life to take an introspective glance at days gone by. We remember. We reflect. We don’t just stop there, however. We promise. We resolve. We try. We even try harder. Yet more often than not, we find ourselves defeated before winter has even given way to spring. The cynics among us will say, “Why bother?” The broken places of our hearts and lives might even call out accusations and condemnation. ”You’re back here again?” ”You’re still struggling with that?” As a result, we’re often tempted to despair and give up or fix the problem by pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps and turning to our old friend, “self-discipline.”
So are resolutions good? Are they bad? Should we jump on board? Should we stay clear? Or are they morally neutral in an of themselves like most created things? Morally neutral things that can go either way depending on the heart of the person making them and the source they place their hope in? When I think about reflection and resolutions in my own life, I think of a double edged sword. One with the potential to do both harm and good to my soul depending on how I answer those questions. Am I trying to save myself? Am I looking at this through the lens of the Law or the lens of the Gospel?
The truth is that the message of the Gospel has everything to do with transformation and nothing to do with bootstraps. The message of the Gospel isn’t about being a better person but about a dead person being raised to life. Jesus reminds us in John 15 that He is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from Him we can do nothing. Perhaps the greatest question I should be asking myself isn’t what I’m resolving from, but why I feel this strong desire to change and who I’m ultimately placing my trust in.
Here are a few posts that flush out this idea far more eloquently than I can.
Happy New Year!
12 Important Questions Every Christian Should Ask Themselves Each Year
Dave Cover shared a blog post with Don Whitney’s original twelve questions a few years ago. I’ve found them helpful each year since.
Year End Thoughts from Spurgeon
But here is the joy, here is the peace of Christians, that our salvation is a finished one…
The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards
If you’re like me, your gut reaction might be to scan this lengthy list, throw your hands up, and shout, “Yeah, right.” Instead, perhaps we should take a moment to think about how this opening line might speak to any resolutions we make.
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.
Back to Square One?
Colleen Kelley, a friend of mine, shares thoughts on letting our resolutions and reflections come under God’s grace.
What is a Habit?
Ann Voskamp responds to this question by saying, “A habit is what we wear. A habit is the way we wear our days.”
The New Year Wears Hope Like a Fragrance
Another post by Ann Voskamp. ”What if all tomorrows are just more of all our yesterdays? A thousand times I’ve told myself, “I simply must try harder.”…Self-striving nurtures self-hatred. Toiling in the flesh produces foiling in the soul…The grace of His Spirit, fills our empty spots, intercedes, and gives us a fresh start every day.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work
“What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies. The mind doesn’t direct the will. The mind is actually captive to what the will wants, and the will itself, in turn, is captive to what the heart wants.” -Ashley Null-
Sitting in the New Year
Two years ago, CJ Maheny’s wife and daughters posted a series called, “Sitting in the New Year” on their blog Girl Talk. The series walked through the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 and provided practical tips for being intentional to spend time sitting at Jesus’ feet.