Welcome to 2019! Like so many New Year’s Days of the past, many will be making resolutions to start off the new year. A lot will be resolving to lose weight, as the plethora of dieting plan commercials will attest. Some will be wanting to reduce their screen time, make new friends, return to an old hobby, or become a better parent, sister, brother, or friend. Others will be resolving to put the struggles of 2018 behind them and not return to them. Most, if you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, will be resolving to read the Bible more, to pray more, to serve more, and to sin less.
The well-known problem with resolutions is that we fail in them most of the time. We vow to lose weight, but the new diet and exercise plan goes off the rails by the beginning of February. We resolve to do a lot of things, but so often we come up way short. If you made resolutions at the start of 2018, how did you fare in keeping them? Likely you fell short. That’s because 80% of New Year’s resolutions end in failure, and usually fairly quickly.
So what gives? Why are resolutions so hard to keep? I think the main reason is making resolutions is faddish in our culture. Everyone is expected to make them, so we do. We pick something (a diet, better discipline regarding our finances, etc.) that we think probably should change and we make a resolution. The problem is most of us are not truly committed, or to use a word from which resolution is derived, we are not resolute to changing what we resolved to change. Yeah, we would like to change. It would be great to do so. Yet, we have no real plan or commitment to do it.
The Oxford Dictionary defines resolute as, “Admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.” The truth is one need not be resolute towards something that can easily be accomplished. And most people don’t make resolutions for the New Year that are easy to fulfill. If they were easy, people wouldn’t have to make resolutions in hopes of achieving them. What we typically resolve to do involves changing a well-ingrained habit or introducing a practice or activity that is foreign to us. In order to achieve it, we will have to be purposeful, determined, and unwavering when the inevitable challenges appear that could easily defeat our attempts at change. In other words, we have to be resolute.
In the Scriptures, the word resolute only appears a few times, but one use is very instructive as to what it means. In Luke 9:51, the good doctor tells us that the time of Jesus’ ascension into heaven was quickly approaching. Thus, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Consider the context for a moment. Jesus knew his time on earth was growing short and in order to enter heaven, he first had to suffer and die a ghastly death on a Roman cross. All of this had to take place in Jerusalem, so that is where he headed. He did it resolutely because of what he knew he would face there—persecution, torture, and death. While Jesus was fully divine, he was also fully human. We know the prospect of suffering was overwhelming to him (Luke 22:42-44). Being in such anguish required him to be resolute if he were going to complete his mission. He had to push through his human weakness by relying on God’s strength.
This is the key to fulfilling any resolution one makes. Are you so committed to achieving it that you will create the steps for how to fulfill it? Are you determined and unwavering enough in your commitment that regardless of what obstacles you face, you will keep pressing on in the strength of the Lord until you achieve it? In other words, will you, like Jesus, be resolute? If you are, you will succeed. If not, you will likely be among the 80% to fail. It’s a choice you have to make.
© Jim Musser 2019