Six days into the new year, what are your prominent thoughts? Considering giving up on the resolution that seemed so reasonable when you made it? Panicking that you are out of floss and can’t get to the store so you may break your resolution to floss every night despite your best efforts?
What about that extra ten pounds? The still-in-need-of-a-good-cleaning closet in the spare room? The monthly chores? The budget? The goals? The future?
A new year dawning is a great time to reflect and refocus for the coming year. It can also be a trap.
A trap of trying to control life. Of course if you finally lose that last ten pounds your life will be instantly better in every way, right? Surely if the spare closet is finally clean, your soul will also feel clean. And looking at those budget numbers every day will surely make you feel in control of your entire life, right?
That is the kicker to resolutions: they are an attempt at control. And as such, they can be a trap.
“Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” –Matthew 6:27
Resolutions can be good. They can be starting points from which God works in our lives in ways we have not seen before. And self-control is a very, very good thing:
“For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sover-minded, just, holy, self-controlled.” –Titus 1:7-8
In this, and many other passages, God calls us to self-control. Yes, maybe that third cookie is a bit much. But is the cookie the problem, or your attempt to control your life the problem? Is the daily coffee shop drink the problem, or the kind of life you think you deserve to have that is causing the daily purchase really what is killing your budget?
So often, it is not the symptom–the resolution–but the underlying cause of the symptom that needs to be addressed. Any attempt to do otherwise will result in fruitless endeavors.
And knowing this, God gives us a phenomenal template from which to build our resolutions:
“But for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” –2 Peter 1:5-8
Resolutions can be good. But if they are yet another small bandage to a much greater issue, you will be frustrated again and again.
Seek God’s heart. Let Him show you the true source of your discontentment. And make resolutions aligned with His purposes.
The payoff will be spectacular!
Photo by Luka Rister