Starting the New Year with bold determination for change can be like grabbing the horns of a 1700-pound bull. It seems like a good idea at first until the gate opens. All the plans and resolutions to make the New Year a better year fade in short memory as reality sets in. Nearly half of the population will make resolutions this year with only 8% successful in achieving their resolutions. People in their twenties are more likely to succeed in keeping their resolutions than those over fifty. This could be because the older you get the wiser you become.
There are many reasons to make a list of resolutions and as many reasons why these resolutions are broken. Less than half keep the promises after six months. Most resolutions go in one year and out the other. The top ten New Year’s resolutions are:
- Lose weight.
- Getting organized.
- Spend less, save more.
- Enjoy life to the fullest.
- Staying fit and healthy.
- Learn something exciting.
- Quit smoking.
- Help others in their dreams.
- Fall in love.
- Spend more time with family.
These are noble aspirations to change in life and are key to having a productive life. If a person is able to keep most of these resolutions, they will enjoy greater success in life. Finding a way to accomplish all is a major life change. So why is it so difficult to do? With so many self-help books and programs to encourage the values of life changes, resolutions are more common to fail than succeed. The reason is obvious but seldom recognized. New Year’s resolutions are more about self than others.
Notice the list of top ten resolutions. The first seven reasons are about the ‘me bubble’ that draws all the attention to self. Seventy-percent of improvement is trying to change the ‘me-factor’ first before trying to think about others. What is sad is one of the most important items on the list is last: spending more time with family. The belief is that if I can change everything about me first then I will eventually think about helping others and putting family on a list of priorities. Resolutions fail because they are built on foundations of sand.
Jesus illustrated the principle of making resolutions in Matthew 7:24-27: “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” The sermon Jesus gave on the mountain was about serving God first before everything else. The necessities of life are secondary to the relationship with the Father. Putting His word first in my life is where the foundation of my life is found.
Resolutions are important in life. They help us grow and change to be better people. Without God, there is nothing to live for and to accomplish in life. When we focus 70% of our life on selfish desires, we become selfish people. The reason society has become a dysfunctional order of hatred, chaos and immorality is because family is last on the list that does not include a relationship with God.
The Ten Commandments show the priority of life that is necessary to bring happiness. When God gave His Law to the children of Abraham, He began with commanding them to give Him glory first. There can be no other gods; no graven images; honor His name and His day of worship. The first four commandments are about God and nothing else. If these are not in place, the remaining six laws have no meaning. The second part of the law focuses on family. God comes first – then family. After family comes the relationship with others: do not murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness or covet your neighbor’s stuff. This order was not by chance. Happiness in life will only come when God comes first, then family and other relationships follow.
Making a New Year’s resolution list is a great tool for self-improvement. Success will only come when God is at the top. Family should come before self. When God is first and family follows, self finds its own resolutions to improve for the glory of God and the happiness of family. Priorities must be set in the right order. Building priorities on the right foundation will make the New Year a bountiful time of showing the world the glory of the Father.
There are key elements for the Christian to make in this New Year. God must be first. Two necessary fundamentals is listening to God and talking to God: reading the Bible and praying every day. These must be FIRST. Nothing should come before them. Reading and praying should be a family affair. Developing a close personal relationship with the Father is paramount to a year of success. Putting spiritual resolutions in place in the coming year lays the foundation of a life built on the rock of Jesus Christ. No matter what comes, faith will bring victory and hope will last the year long.
In this New Year – live and serve the Almighty God who holds our breath in His hand and watches over the universe by His great and mighty power. Each New Year is a time closer to our eternal home. Jeremy Taylor wrote, “Life is short and yet upon this short life eternity depends.” Live each day as if it will be your last and one day you will be right. Resolve to live for God’s glory.
The trouble with turning over a new leaf is that once you’ve done it twice, you’re right back where you started.