“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.” – Philippians 1:21-22a
This is the time of year when millions of Americans around the country are talking about new year’s resolutions. Possibly you’ve made one yourself. Maybe you’ve made a resolution to stop smoking, lose weight, start working out or get a better job. Interestingly, one of the most popular new year’s resolutions over the past few years has been to “unplug” from technology. Many Americans have faced the reality that they are addicted to their smart phones and in response are jumping on the bandwagon to join “the digital detox.”
Well, I have a few thoughts that I’d like you to consider. For starters, most new year’s resolutions are me-focused. They tend to focus on me, myself and I. I want to start doing this. I want to stop doing that. I want to be happy. 2017 is going to be my year.
Another thought that comes to mind is that most new year’s resolutions don’t have a clear point. Think about it: Many Americans have made a resolution to lose weight, but what’s the point of losing weight? To look better? To feel better? To buy a new wardrobe? Okay. But what’s the point of looking better, feeling better and buying a new wardrobe? And while we’re talking about the point of resolutions, what’s the point of ditching the cigarettes, working out, or turning off the smart phone?
I hope you can see what I’m getting at here. Most new year’s resolutions are not bad, just self-absorbed and rather pointless. As you probably know, most new year’s resolutions fail within a few short weeks. And they tend to fail for two reasons. They fail because they do not have an intense, powerful motivation. And they fail because they don’t have a point—a clearly defined purpose. They don’t have something that a person can sink his/her teeth into and get fired up about: For example: If I carry out this resolution my marriage will be saved. If I carry out this resolution I’ll be able to afford to send my kids to college. If I carry out this resolution I will have a 75% better chance of beating cancer.
So, how do we make resolutions and set goals that are not self-absorbed or pointless? Great question! I’m convinced that the greatest resolutions in life are those that are grounded in Scripture, motivated by our love for Christ and carried out for the glory of God. One of the best ways to ensure that our resolutions are not shallow or pointless is to feed them through this three-part filter. Start by asking yourself, “Is my resolution solidly grounded in the Bible?” If so, great! Move on to question number two: “Is my love for Christ my motivation for making this resolution?” If so, fantastic, because Christ’s love that led him to the cross for you and me is the greatest motivator of all!
Next, ask question number three: “Am I going to carry out this resolution for my own glory or for the glory of God?” The glory of God should be the end goal of everything that we do, because the glory of God is the purpose of our existence in the first place.
So, is it bad to make a resolution to lose twenty pounds or start eating healthier or start working out or take a trip somewhere? Maybe. Feed your resolution through the three-question filter and find out. Is your resolution biblically-grounded? Is your resolution motivated by Christ’s love for you and your love for Him? Will the carrying out of your resolution bring glory to God or just bring glory to yourself? If your resolution passes through the filter, great! Go for it, and let me know if I can help.
But regardless of whether or not you’ve already made a new year’s resolution this year, I encourage you to give some serious thought and prayer to what Jesus Christ would like your life to be about in 2017. It’s often been said that if you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time. That’s some great food for thought! All of us need goals to shoot for and resolutions to define our path. And when our goals and resolutions survive the three-question filter, they pave the way for the greatest adventures of faith.
Dane Davis is the lead pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. Start the New Year right by joining us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.