Summary: In general, new year resolutions become old in a few days and we are back with our old routines. This sermon focuses on how to stand firm in our resolutions 1. Dependence on God 2. Creating the apt environment and 3. Perseverance.
Introduction: Another year has ended. Though there were many sweet moments, there were also bad moments of missed opportunities, broken relationships, etc. We started the year 2016 with an aspiration to achieve great things (resolutions) and started running very hard, but soon we lost track and ended up achieving nothing. We desired to live a holy life but ended up committing shameful sins (secret sins known only to you and God). When the year 2016 came to us we welcomed it with joy, but it soon lost its shine and now it has become old. We have welcomed the New Year (2017) with an even greater hope and joy. But the sad reality is that for many of us the New Year 2017 will become old in a few days and we will be back with our daily routines. We will start doing our same old job and live our same old life from 02nd January. So, should we celebrate the arrival of the New Year? Yes, we should, because the New Year provides us an opportunity and a great desire for change towards betterment (resolutions). Most often the problem is not with our resolutions but with our inability to achieve them. This article focuses mainly on how to stand firm in our resolutions, with the next paragraph providing a few suggestions on making the correct resolutions.
Good Resolutions: Resolutions can be classified into two categories namely things to do and things not to do. You should preferably plan both categories together so that one would complement the other. For example, if you want to read the bible regularly and your schedule is already packed then you should also plan what you will stop doing (Example: watching television) or reduce the time spent on some activities (Example: sleeping, if you sleep in excess). I hope all of us make good resolutions. An important suggestion is let your resolution be spiritually motivated rather than physically/worldly motivated. The benefits of the latter are temporary as it ends when you die. But, the benefits of spiritually motivated actions would be eternal. I am not telling something new, but just repeating the advice of Paul to Timothy.
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” – I Timothy 4:8
Let us now focus on what should be done to stand firm in the resolutions.
1. Dependence on God: The main cause of our failure to keep the New Year resolutions is our dependence on our own ability rather than the power of God. I am not saying you should not use your abilities, but we should surrender ourselves to God and ask for God’s guidance and provisions. Moses wanted to provide justice to one Israelite. But he chooses to use his own power and ended up killing an Egyptian and he had to flee Egypt and was unable to help the Israelites further. But when he surrendered himself to God he was able to free not just one but all the Israelites. Saul was zealous for God and wanted to please God by his own ability and he persecuted Christians, but after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and surrendered his life to Him, he was able to truly please God. Similarly, when we surrender ourselves to God completely he will bless the desires of our heart and we will be able to do what we want to do. Hence, pray often and maintain a good relationship with God, which will help you to keep your resolutions.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
2. Creating the apt environment: To stand firm in your resolution, create an environment that will encourage you to do what you want to do and discourage you from doing what you don’t want to do. If you want to have a regular prayer and bible study then plan a time for it and free yourself from all distractions (Example: switching off the mobile). If you want to quit smoking or drug abuse then avoid bad company. Remove all the things that would tempt you to restart the bad habit. Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. - Proverbs 4:14,15. If you are addicted to social media and want to get out of it then block the access to social media. If you want to stop wasting time in television then sell it or disconnect the cable network. Because for most of us selling the television would be much easier than controlling the self from wasting the time in front of television. I may sound extreme, but Jesus suggested things which are more extreme.