On New Year’s Resolutions

Tis the season for talk of resolutions, and before you pooh-pooh the idea of resolutions, or before you start listing out your resolutions for 2013 in a personal journal, consider a few words from the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12:

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

From this text, here are a few bulleted points to meditatively ponder:

  • By his power (δύναμις) God is eager to fulfill (πληρόω) the totality (πᾶς) of our faith-filled resolutions (εὐδοκία). Which means …
  • God cares about our resolutions, all of them — and he sets no limit to their number.
  • Our resolutions are legit only because God, by his power, is resolute on our eternal good in all things (Romans 8:28).
  • True godly resolutions focus outward: on God, on Christ, on divine glory, and on the good of others (2 Thessalonians 1:3–4, 11–12).
  • Shortsighted resolutions, resolutions with me as their end, are powerless and destined to fail.
  • True resolutions should fit within the context of our eschatological hope (2 Thessalonians 1:5–10).
  • True resolutions should fit within the reality of our union with Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:12).
  • True godly resolutions — “works of faith” — focus on God’s enabling power, thus they seek for what only God can provide.

And of course if you’d like help starting your list of resolutions, I find this one to be very helpful: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2, NIV).

As an aside, I appreciate what John Piper wrote about resolutions in his 2009 article:

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Well, the examined life is not worth living either if the examination produces no resolutions. What examination and experience teach us is that the unplanned life settles into fruitless routine. The drifting life — the coasting, que-sera-sera, unreflective life — tends to be a wasted life. The opposite of this is self-examination — life-examination, routine-examination, schedule-examination, heart-examination — followed by “resolves for good.”

2 thoughts on “On New Year’s Resolutions

  1. This article should have been titled “On Resolutions” because “New Year” resolutions have slightly different ramifications that take the attention from faith-filled resolutions to resolutions that must be made by a certain deadline whether one has fully examined their lives or not.

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