Should a Christian make a New Year’s resolution?

Aside from extremists who oppose everything that is not explicitly taught in the Bible, few oppose the idea of making a New Year’s resolution. Most things people resolve to do in a new year are good and worthwhile goals. It is a good thing to eat healthier and exercise more. Giving up smoking and/or drinking is a good idea. Doing a better job of managing finances is a wise move.

Spiritually speaking, the most common New Year’s resolutions are to read the Bible more, go to church more, and/or to be more faithful in sharing the gospel. These are excellent goals for a Christian to make. But, whether the resolution is spiritual or physical, the motives behind the goal are key.

Do you want to lose weight for the sake of vanity or to better honor God with your body?

Is your motive for quitting smoking and/or drinking because you recognize that it is unwise to allow yourself to be mastered by something (1 Corinthians 6:12)?

Do you want to manage your money well so you can give more and/or be a better steward of the resources God has given you, or so you can store up treasures for yourself on earth (Matthew 6:19)?

Are you going to read God’s Word more so that you can "hide God’s Word in your heart" (Psalm 119:11), understanding, applying, and communicating it better?

Why do you want to go to church more, to be seen by others (Matthew 23:5), or so that you can encourage others and be encouraged by others (1 Thessalonians 5:11)?

Do you want to share the gospel out of guilt or out of a passion to obey God’s commands (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8) and reach others with the good news (1 Peter 3:15)?

Other than the resolution to quit smoking/drinking, I have made each of the other New Year’s resolutions at least once (no need for a resolution to stop doing something that I don’t do). I have had varying degrees of success at keeping my New Year’s resolutions. For me, it worked better when I made a “life resolution” instead of a New Year’s resolution. Also, for me, my motivation had to be right for the resolution to have any chance of success. Sure, sometimes I can continue to do something simply out of obedience. But, when there is a true biblically-based passion behind a resolution, that is when there is lasting power.

So, what New Year’s resolutions am I going to make for next year?

(1) I probably need to lose around 10 pounds. Now that I am in my late-40s, my metabolism is not what it once was. Since I have a job that involves working on a computer all day, maintaining an ideal weight is no longer easy.

(2) I want to read through the Bible throughout the year and actually learn from doing so. The past several years I have been successful at reading through the Bible, but not so successful at being fully engaged as I am reading.

(3) Being an introvert, I love being able to minister from behind a monitor and keyboard. I need to be more faithful in ministering to real people in the real world using actual audible communication.

I think each of those resolutions would honor God and would be beneficial to my walk with Christ. They won’t be easy, but important things rarely are.

Here’s hoping that next year’s list is not comprised of the same three items.

S. Michael Houdmann

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Should a Christian make a New Year’s resolution?