It’s that time of year again. When everyone makes their “New Year’s resolutions”: To be a better person. To eat better. To lose weight. To pray more. To be faithful to church. To read their Bible through. To give more. To save money. To forgive. And on and on it goes…
All good things! The problem is, most folks start out with a shout, but finish with a whimper. They start out with great intentions, but life and old habits tend to get in the way. We’ve all read that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so we feel like if we can just make the 21 days, it’ll be sealed in our spirit forever! Here’s the problem – that assessment has proven not to be true. In fact, recent scientific studies show that it takes around 66 days to truly form a habit, when what you are committed to doing feels “automatic”, or, habitual. So if you’re expecting to be locked in to that new commitment around January 21, don’t be disappointed – you’ve got to keep it up until sometime in March for it to have the best chance of sticking! The reality is, it is far too easy to slip back into old routines, when you have a pattern of making commitments, and then breaking them. When you make new resolutions each year, and each year you eventually give up and give in. In fact, there are some folks who don’t even bother to make resolutions anymore, because they know they’re not going to keep them. What a sad way to look at it!
I believe our problem (yes, I said “our” – I’m right there with you!), is that we focus on making resolutions instead of being resolute. We try the latest fad “diet” (that guarantees results, by the way) instead of changing our eating habits. We look at attending church, giving our tithes and offerings, having a prayer life, reading our Bible daily, as separate events instead of making them part of our lifestyle.
Here’s a great example found in the word of God: Luke 11:1 says, “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Notice, the disciple said, “Lord, teach us TO pray,” not “teach us HOW to pray.” The point is not the HOW, the point is the DOING of it! It doesn’t matter the method, just PRAY! We may make a new year’s resolution to pray more, but the fact is, it won’t sustain unless your MINDSET is RESOLUTE. And we know that the only way to sustain a real mindset change is for the Lord to do it: the Bible speaks of us being transformed by the RENEWING of our mind (Romans 12:2), and that we must be renewed in the SPIRIT of our mind (Ephesians 4:23). These scriptures indicate that the mindset change is not based on a one-time event, a resolution, but is sustainable because real change occurs – becoming resolute. In fact, the word “resolution” is a noun (a “thing”, but “resolute” is an adjective. It describes YOU, not just something you DO. Jesus said in another place, “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). Did you notice the wording? He will make us TO BECOME fishers of men. Not simply something we DO, but something we have become, something we ARE. WITNESSING, becoming fishers of men, is not just an event…it’s a lifestyle. It’s not just once a month on a Saturday morning. It’s every day. It’s who you are. And it is who we MUST become.
Please don’t get me wrong: I’m all for making commitments. For making resolutions, for wanting to improve, wanting to do better. And an end of the year “assessment” is a good thing. It’s good to reflect back on the victories of the past year, and it’s good to be inspired to do some things that we didn’t get done. It’s good to look at the beginning of the year as a “new beginning”, as a fresh start. But let us understand, if we’re going to DO better…we must BE better. Instead of just making resolutions, let us be RESOLUTE! And with His help, we can. God bless you.