People are more important than things
Many people use this time of the year to reflect on their past and resolve to make their future a better place to live. Webster’s Dictionary defines “resolution” as “the act of resolving something;” or, a resolution is “the thing determined upon; a decision as to future action.”
Of course, there also are those people who use the word “resolution” to make meaningless commitments. A member of the first church I pastored resolved, one year, that she would be more attentive to the needs of her cat in the new year. She really did. And I’m sure the cat was pleased, assuming the lady kept her word. I heard about a bald man who actually made a resolution to take better care of his hair. You may have to let that one sink in? It falls into the “better-late-than-never” category.
Others trivialize the new year by making resolutions they never intend to keep. How many times have you resolved to … wait; let me say it this way: I cannot tell you the number of times that I have resolved to lose 25 pounds by March. Or, to go on a diet, tomorrow. It was 20 years ago, this year, that a friend of mine stated, “I resolve not to make any more resolutions!” So far as I know, he has kept that resolution.
But here is the relevant question for us at this time of the year – are New Year’s resolutions scriptural? Through the old hymn, Christians often declare, “I am resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delights.” Actually, that sounds like a great resolution for all of us this year. But, are resolutions scriptural?
Well, let me suggest to you that, although the word “resolution” is not in the Bible, at least not in the New King James Version of the Bible – still, the idea of it permeates at least the first line of Psalm 76:11. “Make vows to the Lord your God.” But, in that verse, a vow is much more than a promise. The Hebrew word in that verse that has been translated “vow(s)” in the English language, means “to do or to give something to God.” So, according to the Old Testament, it is right, not only to make, but also to keep your vows, or resolutions.
The Apostle Paul kept his vows. Acts 18:18 says, “So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut in Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.”
Many Biblical scholars believe that the apostle was keeping the Nazarite vow? We can’t know with certainty what the vow was. But we know that Paul made sure to keep his word. He took a vow. He made a resolution. And he kept that resolution.
You and I would do well to do the same in this new year. I don’t mean that you should run out and get a haircut. But I do mean that you and I ought to rededicate ourselves to the Lord – let’s resolve today that we are going to resolutely, purposefully serve Jesus Christ through His church in 2008.
But, because some of you are opposed to resolutions, let me suggest four New Year’s reminders that will help us live out our Christianity in the coming year.
First, as you begin a brand new year, remember that people are more important than things. In the first part of Philippians 4:10 Paul stated, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again.” Pastors, deacons, Sunday School teachers, mission organization leaders, Missouri Baptist Convention staff – all of us who call ourselves ministers of the Gospel – let’s ask ourselves: Has our care and concern for others flourished again? In 2008 remember that people are more important than things.
Also, remember that opportunities lost are seldom regained. The last part of that verse says “… though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.” How often have you said, “If I just had it to do over again, I would do it differently, or better.” But most often, the opportunity does not return. Perhaps the best advice I can give for the new year is that all of us should make the most of every opportunity. Certainly we must grab every witnessing opportunity and every opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ that is in us. Remember opportunities lost are seldom regained.
Another principle to live by is that Christians ought to be content at all times. The words of Paul are convicting to those of us who live in relative ease. “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Now, we have to understand that Paul is speaking of being content in the will of God. You won’t get everything you want. But you can learn to be content with what you have.
And, surely, the best way to learn that is found in the last new year’s reminder: The Christ-centered is the best life. Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Verse 19 of Philippians 4 declares that “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ.”
In 2008, if we will remember these simple new year’s reminders – if we will really center our lives in Jesus Christ – we will also be content at all times; we will make the most of every opportunity; people will be more important to us than things; and, we will fulfill every New Year’s resolution we’ve ever made.