Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? 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.
Some people trivialize the New Year by making resolutions they never intend to keep. How many times have you resolved to lose 25 pounds by March or, to go on a diet—tomorrow? Over 20 years ago a friend of mine stated, “I resolve not to make anymore resolutions!” So far as I know, he has kept that resolution.
But, are New Year’s resolutions Scriptural? Psalm 76:11 states “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.
But, because some of you are opposed to resolutions, let me suggest four simple New Year’s reminders that will help us live out our Christianity in 2011.
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 2011 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. In the coming year, 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 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. During the New Year be content at all times.
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 need according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ.” Surely the Christ-centered life is the best life.
In 2011, if we will remember these simple New Year’s reminders—if we will really center our lives in Jesus Christ—then 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.