Some sage quipped that “a New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”
How often have we began the new year with good intentions, but two weeks into the year, we’ve already abandoned that diet, failed to exercise, and gotten behind on our Bible reading program.
The word resolve means “To come to definite and earnest decision…to determine to do something….to make up one’s mind…to fix or to settle…to determine in mind.”
There are some things regardless of our New Year’s Resolutions that should be firmly fixed and completely settled in our minds. The Old Testament hero, Daniel, is a good example.
Daniel was carried away into Babylonian captivity in 606 B.C. by King Nebuchadadnezzar. Being far away from home, Daniel was faced with many challenges in a godless, foreign land. Probably the most famous episode in his life was when he was thrown into the lion’s den for refusing the King’s edict and continuing his daily practice of prayer.
However, Daniel began his time in captivity with a challenge that tested his resolve. Evidently the King was requiring the captives to eat food that would have been a violation of Jewish law. The Bible says that “Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s royal food and wine.” (Dan. 1:8). Instead he and the other captives requested a simple diet of water and vegetables. At the end of 10 days they looked healthier than those eating at the King’s table.
Daniel was a man of faith, courage and resolve. He didn’t compromise his convictions. He determined to be pure and please God regardless of the place he was in. Regardless of the position he was in. Regardless of the people he was around. And regardless of the pressure he was under.
Possibly the reason our resolve dissolves is because it is too self focused. Preacher and author Leonard Sweet expressed it this way. “Most ‘resolutions’ we make are self-directed: get thinner, work smarter, be stronger, take control of your life. We want to make changes that will help us, improve us, and bring us good feelings about ourselves.”
“Jesus said to be “in” the world but not to be “of” the world. So let’s start with being “in” a world that begins each year making resolutions: let’s make a New Year’s Resolution. But what if we weren’t “of” this world of resolutions we’re “in”? Instead of resolutions to live (2017)in a way that makes us feel good about ourselves, that brings ourselves pleasure, what if we resolve to live a life that brings pleasure to God.”
“What if we were to forget the little resolutions and resolve something big? What if we were to resolve to so live in (2017) that in January of (2018) God can look back at our year of living and declare – ‘Your life brings me great pleasure. Well-done, good and faithful friend.’
Hmm. Resolve to give God pleasure? Is that Biblical? Listen to the Psalmist.
“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.” (Ps 147:1)
“Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” (Ps 35:27)
“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people.” (Ps 149:4)
Isn’t this what Daniel did? Wasn’t his purpose to please God?
Maybe one way to understand this is to remember how much we enjoyed the approval of our parents when we were children. Their smile. A pat on the back. A hug. The words, “I’m so proud of you.” It made us feel good. Accepted. Secure. And loved.
Our Heavenly Father desires to find pleasure in our lives. And, if we really care about pleasing Him, it will bring to our lives a great sense of satisfaction, knowing that we are living a life pleasing God.
Regardless of what’s happened to some of your New Year’s resolutions, don’t let your resolve dissolve. Determine to give God pleasure in 2017.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman