Year after year, ever since I could remember, most people I knew always made New Year’s resolutions. Some examples would include clean eating, losing weight, working out, reading the Bible more, praying more, etc. However, what I have also noticed is that a lot of these things just end up becoming trends. Yes, Christianity (in the sense of organized religion, not a personal, intimate, faith-based relationship with Yahweh/Jesus Christ/the Lord/God, whatever your favorite name for Him is) has become a trend, along with a lot of other things.
Why, though? Why do we seem to make everything into a darn trend? I think I have the answer for this: because we don’t like change! It’s always about us, isn’t it? If something isn’t comfortable for us, like clean eating, then we stop doing it to go back to our creature comfort. If we don’t stick to reading the Bible every day or doing our devotionals, then we stop doing it out of guilt and with the promise, “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I’ll try again next year.” I hate this line of logic (if you would even call it that)!
In fact, I just finished up a book that I was selected to do an advanced review for called “Divine Direction” by Pastor Craig Groeschel, lead pastor and founder of Life.Church. Something interesting that he wrote in this book was that nothing will stick to us unless we keep at it and discipline ourselves. You may as well call this concept “self-control.” Sound familiar? Paul mentions it as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:23 and again in 2 Timothy 1:7. Furthermore, it’s mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, when Paul talks to the church of Corinth about an athlete who has to have self-control in order to win the prize! Paul says that he himself must have self-discipline so that he is better able to preach to others.
So what am I trying to say? Self-discipline is the key to sticking to something you want to do. The reason I’ve become more repulsed by New Year’s resolutions is because it’s always self-honoring rather than God-honoring. If we truly wanted to make a change in our lives that would honor God rather than ourselves, we wouldn’t wait until January 1 of each year. We would realize that God does not care when we come to Him, but just that we do and that we don’t put a timetable on when we do so! The fact is, if we genuinely want to commit to something, we need to do so prayerfully and unselfishly. For example, you want to lose weight (I do!). Are you doing it so you can get the attention of someone you’re attracted to at work, school, or your job? Are you doing it so you can post “selfies” (*cringe) of yourself on Instagram and Facebook? Or are you doing it because your body is your temple (1 Corinthians 16:19-20)? Read that verse, right now. Notice in verse 20 that it says our bodies are meant to glorify God! When we don’t take care of ourselves, it is dishonoring to God and disrespectful to ourselves and, dare I say, to our spouses. Remember this wise saying I once saw a friend share on Facebook: Treat your body like a temple, not a trashcan.
Self-discipline in the spiritual sense is also important, but again, who are you really doing it for? Are you doing it to try and score “heaven points” with God and hoping you can make it in by praying and reading the Bible even though you have serious doubts about it’s authenticity, its claims, and its beliefs? Fact of the matter is this: you are either a child of God or an enemy of God. Pastor Groeschel writes in Divine Direction the following: “Do you trust Him enough to live for Him?” The fact is, if you are a Christian, you better be darn sure of the answer to that question. The fact is, the Christian walk is not easy…if you are actually walking it. Are you going down the right path or the wrong path (Matthew 7:13-14)? Jesus says that we (yes, Christians, that means us) will have trials in this world (John 16:33). But do you know what else He says? “Take heart! For I have overcome the world.” The fact is, our enemy Satan will try to do anything he can to disrupt the work God wants to accomplish in our lives..so long as we are actually allowing God TO work in our lives.
So what does all of this mean? For starters, stop making resolutions. If you want to make a change in your life, make it something permanent, or at least worthwhile. If you have bad eating habits, change them permanently, but don’t kick yourself if you have a cheat day. If you are wanting to devote yourself to studying God’s Word, make. time. for. it. If you have a sin you’ve been wrangling with and have kept to yourself and you want to snap out of it, get help from someone you trust, like a pastor or a close friend of the same gender as you. I promise, when you expose your sin to light, it will begin to shrivel up and die. The speed of its death is dependent on you exposing it and letting it go. It will change your life, just like when I grappled with bitterness and unforgiveness towards people for such a long time. I’ll save that story for another day.
So is it really New Year, New You? Or is it actually New Year, New Trend?