Summary: A few tips for making and keeping resolutions.
Philippians 3:8-14 – A New Start for the New Year
We are interrupting the testimony of the Apostle Paul, to hone in on something specific that should be helpful to us as we look forward to the New Year. Notice verse 8…
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?? If so, you have plenty of company. Researchers have found that about one third of Americans make resolutions each New Year. It’s human nature – when we pass some significant milestone, like a new year, to pause and evaluate how we’re doing. And oftentimes we find areas that need improvement.
The areas people most often resolve to change are fairly consistent: lose weight, exercise, get out of debt, spend more time with family, quit some bad habit like smoking… and without fail, the numbers of folks joining Weight Watchers or gyms skyrocket in January. It’s human nature to WANT TO do better.
It’s ALSO human nature to fail. Most resolutions last about three days to three weeks, and certainly by February, we are right back in the old ruts we had promised ourselves we’d get out of. It doesn’t take long for reality to snuff out what little bit of willpower and enthusiasm we might have had. Research has found that less than 10 % of us succeed in our resolutions.
Why??? Why is it so hard to change???
Because people often set unrealistic goals for themselves. Instead of setting a goal to lose 10 pounds, they determine to lose 100.
OR, they make too many resolutions at once – like eating right, quitting smoking, reading their Bibles every day, spending time in prayer – all very wonderful things – but two or three days into it, they are overwhelmed by the number of changes.
We often fail because we underestimate how difficult it is to change.
And SOME fail in their resolutions because they lack the commitment necessary to follow through. They have developed a pattern of quitting whenever they experience difficulty – and so they have grown to accept - and even EXPECT failure.
All of this has led many to reject New Year’s resolutions altogether. The thinking goes, “Why attempt something that is doomed to fail??? Why pretend that change is possible when you know you will blow it?” To some, resolution-making is a waste of time because it leaves them feeling worse about themselves.
I understand the fear of failure - but at the same time, all of us have areas in our lives that NEED improvement – all of us have things we should do better. And January has been considered the perfect time to make those changes for centuries.
The month was called “January” because the Romans named it after their god Janus – depicted as having two faces – one looking back at the old year with regret, and the other face looking forward to the New Year with hope. The Romans understood that at the start of a new year we can’t help but be hopeful of improvement.
Maybe you look back at 2015 with sadness. Maybe you see failure in the old year. And so now, looking into 2016, you have a desire to do SOME things differently. Today I want to show you from God’s word, How you CAN get a fresh start this New Year. There are three things you need to do according to Paul:
1. First, if you want a new start, then you must forget the things which are behind. Listen to his wisdom in verse 13, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind...” If you hope to change, there are some things in the past that you need to forget. Two things: