A different, more effective New Year’s resolution

Warm-Up: Psalms 119:25-32

Happy New Year everyone. 2018 is here and, like most years, people around the world are making New Year’s resolutions:

Eat more healthy
Exercise more
Drink less
Work harder
Rest more consistently
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Watch the Bulldawgs win the Rose bowl (one of my personal ones)

While New Year’s resolutions are a great opportunity to reflect on the year before and seek for ways to improve the next, people aren’t always consistent with their resolutions. In fact, 80% of them have failed by February. It’s easy to sign up for the gym membership, but hard to go back every week. It’s easy to make that first healthy grocery run, but hard to ignore that box of Christmas chocolates still sitting on top of your fridge.

One of the challenges with resolutions is they rely on our own resolve. That may seem like an obvious statement given the name, but Psalms 119 offers us a different approach to achieving one important resolution.

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Psalms 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, and it is entirely about loving the law of God. The moral of the story is this, following God’s laws actually leads to a more fulfilling and satisfying life, rather than a boring and cramped one. Despite this knowledge, it is still difficult to do what is right because of our sin nature. Verses 25-32 give us the key to following God’s law and actually succeeding in any resolutions to do so: dependence on God.

Here are some examples:

  1. Vs 26 says, “When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!” David knows his natural ways are sinful and not aligned with God’s teaching, so he asks God to teach him to obey. He asks for more teaching in verses 27 and 29.
  2. Vs 28: “My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” David knows his resolve is weak and prone to failing, so he asks God for strength.
  3. Vs 31: “I cling to your testimonies, O Lordlet me not be put to shame!” David knows his tendency to believe things that are not true, so instead he clings to the testimonies of God (in other words, the Scriptures). By holding tightly and seeking after truth, he knows he will not be deceived and put to shame.
  4. Vs 32: “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” David’s core problem is his own heart. He needs God to transform it, but he knows that when God does the work, not only can he obey the commands, but he can run in them. He can find freedom and enjoy the commandments, following them with ease.

If your New Year’s resolution is to live more like Christ, then it won’t happen because you tried harder. Leaning on your own efforts will lead to disappointment and an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. Instead, we should follow David’s model.

Instead of resolving to become better, resolve to seek after God. Cling to His testimonies, pray that he will teach you and strengthen you, and ask him to enlarge your heart. When you live close to God, He will do His work in your heart. You will become more like Him, and therefore following His commands won’t feel like a challenge.

Instead, following his commands is something you will run to with joy.