It’s January 4. Cue the New Year’s resolution to actually keep my New Year’s resolution.
Really, though. New Year’s resolutions have become more of a joke than anything—people rarely set out and actually do them. Go to the DBU gym in the days after New Year’s and it’s jam-packed. As the weeks pass, the crowd dwindles until the end of the semester, when it’s quieter than the library.
People just don’t often stick with New Year’s resolutions throughout the year, at least not fully, and I don’t know why. And yet, whenever the new New Year rolls round, people start talking about what their resolution is. Lose weight. Exercise more. Eat out less. Cook more. No matter how many times we’ve failed, no matter how many years we’ve had the same resolution “but this time for real,” something about the beginning of a new year opens up endless possibilities, and people make those resolutions anyway.
Even USA Today acknowledged this reality in an article from December 28, 2015 titled, “Why I’m Making a New Kind of New Year’s Resolution.” The article admits that something is wrong with “temporary resolutions that don’t always stick.” It suggests, instead, we should “focus on finding a continual prescription that causes you to strive for your best.”
And something about that reminds me of Jesus.
Jesus. Light of the World. Great Physician. Mighty Counselor. Prince of Peace. I think to that list you can add “King of Fresh Starts.” You see, Jesus is the “continual prescription.” He’s steady when we’re flaky, and He died for us when we can’t even die to our own selfish desires.
I’m not saying failing our New Year’s resolutions is failing Jesus; that would be a work-based salvation, and as my unchecked 2015 New Year’s resolutions will attest, I can’t muster the perseverance to work my way into a smaller pair of jeans, let alone an eternal salvation. No, I’m just saying that our inability to keep those little goals, even though we set them year after year, is a glimpse of our failing human nature. I’m saying that the fact we pull off into the drive-thru at the last minute (because it was such a long day at work) even though we planned a money-saving dinner at home is indicative of an internal battle between the tempting temporary and the impending eternal. I’m saying that Jesus is King of Fresh Starts because we’re Queens of Backsliding. I’m saying that Jesus reaches down and pulls us out of the mud at the bottom of our landslides over and over because we can’t keep our footholds by ourselves.
Don’t just throw your hands up in defeat and never make another December 31 goal. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I need to be healthier, and I’m going to exercise four times a week this year.” There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I need to build up $1,000 in my savings account, so I won’t eat out as much.” Those are good things. Those are things that honor God by being stewards of our bodies and of the things He’s given us. But they are temporary things. They are not the “continual prescription.” They don’t fix the root issues. You probably won’t work out four times a week every single week this year, and there will be times when you’re just too tired to make anything except a turn into Chick-Fila. That’s ok.
On a more life-affecting note, there will also be times when you slip back into that sin you thought you’d overcome, the serious sin that has more consequences than a skipped workout or a fast-food binge. And during those times, the King of Fresh Starts will reach His hand down from eternity to you, because He “who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
So set those goals. Set those New Year’s resolutions for your external health and financial well-being. But also resolve, on a deeper level, to give up that internal thing that’s hurting your relationship with Jesus. Whatever you do, do it as if you are working for Jesus, not for men (Colossians 3:23).
And after you set those resolutions, know that even if you fail every goal you make, He won’t fail you. That’s the beauty of the continual prescription when compared to the temporary cure.