Christmas is Coming!!!
Did you know a full 40% of the nation’s population makes New Year’s resolutions each year?
Of course, the size and scale of these goals often differs from person to person. Many set out to change their budgets, bodies, homes, or education levels. Others want to focus on emotional well-being or the building of meaningful interpersonal connections with others. But regardless of the specific area of interest, there exists a couple of common denominators between these resolutions worth acknowledging.
First and foremost, everyone seems to want more of something specific in their lives. We are never satisfied. A study was performed on individuals’ New Year’s resolutions across the country. When asked, 53% of respondents wanted to save more money, 24% of respondents wanted to travel more, 23% wanted to read more books. Others wanted to increase their own personal health by losing weight, getting in shape, or quitting smoking.
More is a common focus, and that is not always bad. Many of us could benefit from books, travel, or a little weight loss. What’s most impressionable here is the theme of discontentment; we are a society full of perpetually unsatisfied people, hungry for more of whatever we can get our hands on.
Second, New Year’s resolutions are mostly about trying harder. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, it seems that the method we use for going about getting to the ‘more’ we’ve set our sights on is the same across the board. When in doubt, most of us assume that trying harder is the solution to almost all our problems. Are you struggling with your weight? Try hustling better at the gym. Finding it difficult to reconfigure that budget? Work more diligently. Not getting that promotion at work you’ve always wanted? Maybe you’re not putting enough effort in.
New Year’s is, without a doubt, every try-hard’s favorite holiday. But the thing is, this whole ‘do more, work harder’ mentality hasn’t just become evident in our celebration of a once-a-year goal-setting tradition. In fact, many of us now live in a culture that is more achievement focused than any other in recent history.
Not surprisingly, our try-hard culture has spilled over into matters of spirituality. Many Christians this New Year’s Day plan to make resolutions about Bible reading, prayer time, and ministry work. We want to be better followers of Christ who take the call to obedience seriously in our daily practices.
We may have Godly ambitions. These ambitions, much like the weight loss, reading, and travel goals are good things when entered into rightly. Certainly, setting goals for the new year about going to church, praying, or reading Scripture with greater frequency isn’t a bad idea. We also need to set aside time for personal devotions, alone time with God. But matters like these often fall astray not in the planning, but in the application stage. You see, the lie we so often believe about faith is that it is something we alone have the power to nurture. It’s our job to draw closer to God. It’s our job to spend more time reading God’s Word. It’s our job to pray so that we won’t forget about God’s presence or fall astray.
But, what we must remember amidst the try-hard and obsessive goal-setting mentalities in the world we live in is that our God is the source of all life changes. As Paul write in Philippians, God who began a good work in each of our lives is faithful to complete it in good time. The growth of our trust and cultivation of our love for God isn’t something we can nurture all on our own. God is sovereign over and constantly providing every step of the way.
That just does not just include things like booking your quiet time. It includes booking your exercise. It includes all of life, and our desire to submit our lives to God. Actually, even if we want to do these things, it is God who gives us the desire. The New Living Translation of Philippians 2:13 says: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases God.” Work as we might to love God more and follow God better, we never want to lose the fact that it is God working in us. For me, I’m going to set goals and make resolutions with that mentality—one centered around God’s power in us instead of my trying harder.
I hope you will as well, because you can be satisfied, in Christ, and you can have more, in Christ. God-centered resolutions are not all about you, your strength, or your plans. That’s what makes such resolutions worth making.
Have a blessed New Year! May all your God-centered resolutions come true! ~ In Christ’s love, Pastor Scott Prouty