Well, it’s that time of year again. Thousands of people—no, millions of people—woke up on New Year’s Day and resolved either to stop a bad habit or to start a good one. Some probably resolved to do both. According to various sources on the ever accurate and reliable internet, some of the most common resolutions Americans make on any given New Year’s Day are to lose weight, get fit, quit smoking, get organized, spend more time with family, get out of debt, or learn something new.
Those resolutions all sound admirable enough. The very fact that New Year’s resolutions are a tradition in our culture seems to be a sign that we recognize faults in ourselves and want to correct them. Who would argue against self improvement? Unfortunately, though, most New Year’s resolutions are broken within a few weeks. According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton and published on the website Statistics Brain, only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions are successful in achieving what they have resolved to achieve.
Why are we so irresolute in our resolutions? I’m sure there can scarcely be an end to the reasons we fail at keeping our resolutions, but I suggest one important reason we don’t keep them is that our resolutions often have the wrong foundation. Our resolutions have us as their sole foundation and, unfortunately, as their sole source of accountability. That’s right, we resolve within ourselves to do something, and then we promise to hold ourselves accountable to do it. The outcome is too predictable.
On the other hand, what if our one resolution was to grow in our walk with God through the study of His word and the application of it in our lives? That is a resolution that would lead to our sanctification. According to 1 Thessalonians 4:3, our sanctification is the will of God; therefore, if we resolve to do that which leads to our sanctification, we will have the help of God to accomplish that resolution. There is a big difference between resolving within one’s self to do a thing in one’s own power and promising to do a thing in accordance with God’s will—the former isolates one on an island while the latter puts him in the company and care of the strongest ally.
And then there is the accountability factor. God has given Christians to each other to hold each other accountable to keep His law, to love His commandments, and to walk in His ways. Accountability is one of the functions of community, and there is no greater community on earth than God’s Church. In Proverbs 27:17 we are told that we are meant to sharpen one another just as “iron sharpens iron.” While none of us is perfect or in a position to condemn a brother or sister, we are meant to hold one another accountable to walk the Christian walk—to apply God’s word to our lives every day. So, if that is our resolution—to grow in our walk with God through the study of His word and the application of it in our lives—we should be able to depend upon our Christian brothers and sisters to hold us accountable to that resolution. It is their duty to do so, which means we are no longer responsible for providing our own accountability to keep our New Year’s resolution.
This year, make a resolution you can keep. Commit to grow in your walk with God through the study of His word and the application of it in your life. He will help you achieve your resolution, and your Christian brothers and sisters will help you keep it. On your own, you have about an 8% chance of getting flatter abs or an organized closet, but if you pursue the will of God for your life—which is your sanctification—you cannot fail.