Burn Your New Year’s Resolutions
You won’t keep them anyway. You’re wasting your time.
You know it. I know it. So just stop, all right.
I love newness. I cherish rebirth.
This time of year speaks of newness, of rebirth.
Like a Monday on steroids, the imminent new year beckons. I can scarcely imagine all that the Lord will accomplish.
He will change a life. He will save a soul. He will heal. He will make something ugly beautiful. He will use someone unworthy. He will turn something wicked into good. He will change a heart, mend a relationship, free someone from addiction.
How do I know these things. Because this is what He does.
The Bible states it; reality affirms it. I’ve seen it…in my own life and the lives of others. His sovereign hand moves in every facet of existence, constantly working all things according to the counsel of His good will.
I’ve kept exactly two resolutions in my entire life.
In January 2005, I resolved to quit chewing tobacco.
As a can-a-day Copenhagen dipper for over 14 years, I became aware at some point that it was going to kill me. I began to have crusty white spots on my gums which I learned were likely leukoplakia, a precancerous condition.
I also began to have stomach issues.
I’d have a big ‘ol fatty in and then suddenly, I’d have to spit it out or I’d puke. Some kind of reaction with my stomach. Envision driving down the road, spitting into a coke bottle, and then having to get it out as quick as possibly, into the coke bottle with the narrow opening, without spilling it, without getting it on you, trying not to puke, and also, not to hit the car in front of you.
I’d throw in another immediately, as soon as my stomach settled.
As my quit date approached, I became depressed at the thought of life without Copenhagen. How could I live?
But I set it down, for good. January 7th, 2005. My wife quit smoking after 14 years the week prior. We both went cold turkey and we both stuck with it. It was hell, but we made it. And 13 years later, I’m still alive. It hasn’t killed me…yet, anyway.
That same year, my wife and I resolved to go to church.
I hadn’t been to church in my entire adult life, having fled the institution almost immediately after leaving home. Our oldest daughter had begun to drift a bit and we wanted the church to ‘fix’ her. Some good old fashioned church morality was just what she needed.
God had a much different plan.
We are still in church.
You have anxiety, yes?
Maybe it’s not clinical yet, but you worry. You fret.
How are you going to pay your bills? Where will the money come from? Will your wife or your husband walk away? Will your children have it better than you? Will your car get you to work tomorrow without breaking down?
Will you ever have peace?
Right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, the most famous sermon ever preached, in a section on anxiety, Jesus utters these words, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Three times, He exhorts, “Do not be anxious.” Do not be anxious. Do not be anxious. Don’t worry about your life. Don’t worry about food or drink. Do not worry about what you will wear.
Tomorrow will have enough worry of its own and God already knows what you need…
…but seek first the kingdom of God.
Jesus well informs our priorities.
Priorities drive resource allocation.
All of us have an internal set of priorities from which we apply our time, our money, our thoughts, our work, our emotional and intellectual energy. In fact, our resource allocation will often betray our publicly stated priorities.
Claim what you will, but where you spend your time and your money speaks volumes about your priorities.
New Year’s resolutions are an attempt on our behalf to realign our priorities in a manner that we deem to be more suitable. I’ve made the same ones as you.
I am going to get ripped, I mean really hit the gym hard this year.
I’m not going to eat any junk food or fast food.
I’m going to go home and throw away everything with sugar in it.
The whole 30!
I’m going to get out of debt.
I’m going to spend more time with my kids.
I’m going to read more.
I’m going to be happy.
I’m going to focus on me.
Maybe these are good things but you know what happens. Three weeks later, you’re sitting in front of YouTube one evening, watching stupid cat videos, scarfing an entire can of Pringles as quietly as possible so your kids won’t hit you up, while the t.v. puts them to sleep in the next room.
Wait, crap. That’s me.
Back to You
Let’s get back to you.
Get ripped, but does it matter? Maybe you’ll see an ab or two. Maybe you’ll hit a PR on a lift. Maybe you’ll finally look how you feel you ought to look in your favorite pair of jeans but does it matter? Does it have eternal significance?
Eat better. By all means, take better care of your body. Feed your children better food. Pursue health but understand the reality.
No matter how hard we try, our bodies will one day fail. Steadily we march to the grave, to our predetermined date with the Maker. We may arrive in better condition, but arrive we will.
Don’t be misled. We ought to be good stewards of our bodies as the temple of the Spirit. Our bodies carry our mouths that we might proclaim, our hands that we might work, but to what end?
Our money, our time, our resources: it all belongs to Him. We can accumulate. We can redistribute. We can save and save or spend and spend. Either way, though we may temporarily possess some things, they will all rust and decay and become as if they never existed.
Again I ask, to what end?
The harshest reality is this…no matter what you do, the second you die, the instant you are in the ground, the world will begin the process of forgetting all about you. Don’t believe me? Who was the richest man in your town forty years ago? Thirty years? The most popular? The most successful?
They are long since forgotten, erased from memory, a specter from the past.
A Worthy Resolution
But the kingdom of God, that is forever. That is eternity.
The King, King Jesus, He is forever. As is His grace, His mercy, His love.
As He ascended into Heaven and took His seat at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, He inaugurated His kingdom, assuming the throne over all things. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him, but all things are in subjection to Him.
His kingdom, the invisible kingdom of His majesty, advances across the world. It cannot be stopped. It will not be hindered. God’s purposes will be accomplished.
And one day, He will return in power and glory, visibly and it will be the most recognizable event in the history of the world. No man will doubt what has occurred. It will unmistakable, undeniable, both terrifying and awesome.
At that point, He will consummate His kingdom as He sets all things right and His people will rule with Him into eternity.
Won’t you seek after this, the kingdom.
Allow me to invite you.
Burn your New Year’s resolutions. Yes. Burn them. Write them down and then rip them to shreds and set them on fire.
This year, let us resolve boldly. Let us resolve to seek first the kingdom of God and really, to seek first the King, King Jesus.
Let us seek Him, pursue Him, strive after Him. Let us meditate on Him, dwell upon Him, think about Him. Let us preach and teach about Him. Let us study about Him, prayerfully, through the word of God that reveals to us the Word of God. Let us magnify Him. Let us worship Him. Let us praise Him. Let us know Him and let us follow Him.
Let us be resolute in this regard.
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
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