Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year’s Resolutions!

“If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
James 4:14

     Welcome to 2013! We are quickly approaching the one year anniversary of The Thought Box, and I can say that this last year has grown me, in many ways. Writing for The Thought Box has taught me many things, and I hope you, as our readers, have learned through our articles as well.

     A new year means new ideas, new opportunities and new goals. At the beginning of each year, we resolve to change our lifestyles, our eating habits, our education level, our income. We seek to acquire a new skill, make new friends. "Out with the old and in with the new" as the saying goes. "What we once had, is no longer good enough," "only good things are to come," and "life only gets better" are all mindsets of the new year. We focus on what is to come, more than we focus on what we have.
     With all the hype about what we are going to do in the upcoming year, I frequently am discouraged by the lack of gratefulness in the focus; I want to lose weight, I want a better paying job, I want a college diploma. I want to be reminded about the simple blessings God has given us, especially as we look toward a new year, full of uncertainty and confusion. (Klipsie has been doing a great job outlining the importance and benefits of wisdom and giving us practical ways to increase our thankfulness in our day to day lives.)
     Looking back on 2012, I can say for sure that nothing that happened last year I had planned on, looked forward to, or was even remotely aware of the possibility of its occurrence. Which brings me to my second point; you don’t know what tomorrow, much less 365 tomorrows, holds. Scripture is full of references to the futility of human foresight. James 4:13-17, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring…” Matthew 6:25-34, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself,” Proverbs 27:1, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what the day may bring.” We know nothing about tomorrow, nor what it may bring. We can plan, but any illusions of power - illusions that we control the future - are foolishness. But that doesn't mean that we aren't to plan; just because we can’t see the future does not mean that we get a pass for preparing for it. James 4:13-14 says that instead of saying “today or tomorrow we will” do this or that, we should say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” We are to make our plans with the understanding of the sovereignty of God. 
     So are New Year’s resolutions foolish and pointless? Yes and no. If you drive on an interstate, you have a narrow margin of speed. If you go too fast, you will wreck, if you drive too slow, you will be run into. If you make too many resolutions, if you focus too much on your resolutions, then you will wreck. The uncertainty of the future and the reality of your capabilities will stop your efforts. But on the flipside, if you make no effort for self improvement, either because you believe yourself to be perfect, or because you are too lazy, your life will be slow, uninteresting, and you will miss many opportunities to spread God’s glory. A balance must be struck.
     Why are you resolving? Are you changing your lifestyle in order to fit with the cultural norm? Are you going on a diet to increase your "self esteem" and to reduce the teasing you endure from others? Neither of these is a good reason. Lifestyle changes should only be made in one direction: to bring glory and honor to God. Eternal repercussions should be at the center of our resolutions, both at the beginning of the year, and at the beginning of every day. In the end the temporal, earthly and worldly things – wealth, weight, etc. – don’t matter. What matters is our effect on those around us, glorifying ourselves, or whether we are pointing them to Christ.


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