Did you know the concept of a New Year’s Resolution began 4,000 years ago? According to History.com, the ancient Babylonians were the first to hold celebrations bringing in their new year with celebrations and promises offered to their gods. The Babylonians believed that if they were true to their promise, their false gods would grace them with favor in the new year.
Fast forward a few thousand years to the early Christians. They viewed the first day of the new year as a time to reflect on their past mistakes and resolve to do better in the coming year. In 1740, John Wesley hosted the first “watch night” service. Instead of partying the night away, he thought it was beneficial for believers to come together to sing hymns, pray, and read scriptures.
To this day, churches across America continue this “watch night” tradition every New Year’s Eve, and many believers continue the tradition of reflecting on their past to make resolutions for a better new year. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do things better and to grow stronger spiritually. However, when we randomly make promises, vows, or resolutions without a plan to follow through, it can be a real problem.
Promises unfulfilled bring guilt and shame. I have experienced this many times when I’ve abandoned my own New Year’s resolution a few months into the year. To be honest, sometimes it made me feel like a failure.
There’s a warning to us all in Proverbs 20:25: “Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.” We must never forget that God is holy, and the people of his kingdom are to be holy and their words are to be truthful. This call to holiness and truthfulness includes any resolution, vow, or promise we make to God and others.
God takes our promises seriously and will hold us to them. That’s why I made a decision to set truthful resolutions by asking God to seek my heart and reveal areas that need adjusting. Then I trust Him to give me a plan to succeed.
Whatever God is laying on your heart to do differently this year, know that he wants you to win. So, it is best to have a plan. Studies have shown that choosing three to five clear goals to work on is a good step. Break them down into action steps:
- Be truthful by asking God to search your heart.
- Be specific with your goals.
- Be consistent by actively working on your goal.
- Be prayerful by consistently praying through your goals.
- Be powerful by clinging to the Holy Spirit’s power to complete your goals.
Remember, the plans of the diligent lead to profit (Proverbs 21:5). Be diligent to do all God has purposed for you this new year. Only God knows the plans he has for us (Jeremiah 29:11).
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)