New Year's Resolutions

Are you in the habit of making New Years resolutions? Well, if so you are in for some good news. I am going to give you a fool proof way to stop the cycle of making and breaking vows.

I am reminded here of an old Bob Newhart skit in which he played a psychiatrist with an unusual approach to people’s problems. He asked a woman what her problem was and when she told him his response was a resounding "Stop It." Obviously this approach lacks more than finesse. If we could stop doing the things we don’t like to do, or are harmful to us, we would all be different people.

Deciding to stop most habits is a little more complicated than just making a resolution. Therefore the best way to stop breaking resolutions is to stop making them. Just stop it! In all seriousness, for the most part resolutions are not very effective are they? If you come from a stream of evangelicalism that encourages you to re-dedicate your life to Christ when you have strayed, you have probably discovered the results are about the same. At least for me it was quite repetitive and predictable. It involves trying and failing, trying and failing, until many folks just give up the trying part and learn to live with the failing.

You may have experienced the same kind of result with resisting temptation. The more you think about it the more power you give it and the less likely you are to overcome it. All of these scenarios have one thing in common. They all depend on our best efforts. There is however a better way. The following four Scriptures put it in perspective for us.

Philippians 1:6 "... He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

Philippians 2:13 "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

Colossians 3:2 "Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on the earth."

I have said previously that God did not intend for us to live the Christian life. He makes it possible, by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit, for Jesus to live his life through us. That provision includes dealing with the difficult things of life.

Let me suggest something for you to try. Instead of making a resolution to try harder, make a commitment to stop trying and start trusting God to be your strength in the midst of the struggle. Talk with him about it. If you mean business tell him to do whatever it takes for you to be an overcomer.

Just think what that might do to the nature of your relationship with the Lord. When you discover that you can’t, but he can, you are likely to find yourself spending more time in his presence. I trust this will be a great New Year for you.

Jack Purcell is a retired Army LTC and had a second career at two different Universities as Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs. In between he twice served in leadership roles in two different Exchanged Life Offices. He now lives with his wife Mary in Boerne TX where he writes a weekly column in the Boerne Star, called On The Journey.