The time for resolutions has come. If you are among those who like to refocus with the dawning of a new year, here are a few suggestions.
Assess the Past Year
Self-examination is important and helpful. “Examine yourselves” is the admonition of 2 Corinthians 13:5. In the spirit of that passage, set aside some time to sit down in a quiet place and contemplate your life. What are your strengths? In what areas are you weak? What temptations seem the hardest to fight? What sins do you find yourself committing more often than others? Aside from work obligations, how do you spend most of your time? How often do you pray? What are your Bible reading and study habits? How is your Bible class and worship attendance? Are you making time to serve others? Be honest with yourself. Even the most conscientious Christian can find room for improvement. Discover what areas of your life need the most attention.
Develop a Plan
Select the areas that you want to address and create a concrete plan of action. This will include precisely stated goals and specific steps to help you reach those goals. For example, instead of the generic, “I want to do better in my Bible class attendance,” opt for the specific, “Barring illness or other matters beyond my control, I will attend every Sunday and Wednesday Bible class in 2019.” To accomplish that goal, create a plan. It might look like this: (1) Go to sleep earlier on Saturday night. (2) Set an alarm early enough on Sunday morning to allow plenty of time to get ready. (3) Regardless of how tired I am on Wednesday evenings, I will go to Bible study with a positive attitude. (4) I will study the lessons outside of class so that the class itself will be more meaningful.
Emphasize the Spiritual
There are usually a few improvements that we want to make each year that we would characterize as more physical than spiritual. But some of those matters have a spiritual component, too. Look for the spiritual motivation even in those physical things.
For example, if you want to get a better handle on your physical health, there are deeper reasons to do that than just being able to fit into your clothes again. Paul asked this rhetorical question, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Your body really belongs to God. He’s letting you live in it for a while, but one day you will stand before him to account for how you’ve used it. So will I. We must show ourselves to be good stewards of the Spirit’s temple.
The same can be done with finances. If you want to get a better handle on your money, emphasize the spiritual implications of that challenge. Remind yourself that one day God will call you to account for how you’ve used the monetary blessings he has given you (Matt. 25:14-30).
There is no good reason to stay where we are in our current level of Christian maturity. We should always be working toward improvement. If we aren’t, we could find ourselves in a state of apostasy (Heb. 6:1-8). God is blessing us with the opportunity to improve, and he will provide the help if we will make the choice (Phil. 2:12-13).