From the Pulpit: Time to check in on those resolutions

Pastor Dan Deardoff, Blessed Redeemer Lutheran Church

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year? If so, how are they doing? Most people don’t take their resolutions seriously, and make light of them. “I’m doing well on my New Year’s resolution to lose 10 pounds,” one person joked. “I only have 15 more to go!” Another person bragged, “My New Year’s resolution was to eat 1,200 calories a day. I’ve been doing great! I’ve surpassed my goal every day so far.” Another person lamented, “I was going to quit all my bad habits for the new year, but then I remembered that nobody likes a quitter.” Most resolutions are abandoned the first week of January, or are toast by Valentine’s Day.

People have asked me in my role as their pastor if they should make New Year’s resolutions or not. My reply is that it depends. If your resolutions are to make yourself a better person, that is commendable, but you will end up frustrated. As Jesus once warned, “The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” You will find out the same thing Ben Franklin found out when he made a list of 13 virtues he hoped to achieve in his life. He had trouble in particular with resolutions No. 2, “Silence – avoid trifling conversation,” No. 3, “Order – Let all your things have their places,” and No. 5, “Frugality – Waste nothing.” 

Franklin even carried these 13 resolutions around with him in a small book, where he put a black mark each day next to each resolution broken. So many black marks appeared on top of other black marks that his book developed holes, and he had to keep his records on a piece of ivory that he could mop off with a wet sponge. Franklin discovered what St. Paul warned in Romans 7:15b, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” 

What is a realistic set of resolutions to make? Resolve to trust God to do what we are unable to do. We can’t pay for a single one of our sins, so resolve to pray daily, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me,” (Ps. 51:10). Resolve to turn your worries over to God. “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation,” (Is. 12:2). 

Resolve to remember that things aren’t hopeless because even if we can’t save ourselves, or even make serious progress in our resolutions to improve, on the last day God is “able to keep you from falling, and present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy,” (Jude vs 21). This is God’s New Year’s prayer for you from Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”



The Brandon Valley Journal


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