There are apparently some strong opinions out there about whether it’s right or not to make New Year’s Resolutions. Those who benefit from the practice argue that it’s merely a matter of setting goals, and without a goal, it’s impossible to see if you are really making progress toward something. So making a resolution in regard to your physical, financial, or spiritual state is an act of discipline that helps you follow through.
Those that don’t like resolutions say that doing so is either just setting yourself up for failure, or else a way of introducing spiritual pride and achievement into your life. Better than having a goal is simply to commit yourself to a set of actions and continue day by day in it.
So who’s right? Probably both in a sense. For my part, I’ve found a lot of value over the years in taking the time around the new year to look back on the year before and then trying my best to chart a course forward in some specific ways. But I’m certainly not going to criticize someone who has good reasons not to do the same.
So rather than advocating for the practice of resolutions or fighting against it, I wonder (at the risk of writing a cheesy post) if we could consider the act of resolutions from a different vantage point. Specifically, remembering in all our resolution-making that God does not do the same. And we should be thankful that He does not for at least these three reasons:
1. God has nothing to improve on.
One of the reasons we make New Year’s resolutions is because we want to improve on something in our lives. We want to eat better, exercise more, or spend less, and the reason we want to do that is that we are currently dissatisfied with our current practice in that area. Not so with God.
God has nothing to improve on, not because He is prideful, but because He is perfect, and thank God He is. Thank the Lord that every year God does not have to consider how He could improve upon the way He is governing the affairs of the universe, because this year, like every year, is held in His hands. He still holds the times and the seasons just as He always has, and will continue to execute His plans and desires in just the right way and at just the right time.
2. God has nothing to make up for.
Another reason we might make a resolution this year is because we have recognized that we have been, through the past, letting people down. We might not have spent enough time with our families. Or we might not have controlled our budget. Or we might not have been available to our friends. And in the new year, we want to try and make amends for all the balls we’ve dropped. Not so with God.
God has nothing to make up for because in His perfection, God has not made any mistakes in the past year. This can be a tough thing to swallow, and at the risk of being insensitive, it’s nonetheless true that God does not have to apologize for any of His judgments over the past year. He has done the right thing whether or not we yet recognize it as being right.
3. God’s time is not running out.
One final reason we might make a New Year’s resolution is because we sense that our time is growing short. That might be because our kids are steadily moving toward college, and so we know we have a limited amount of time left with them at home. Or it might be that we see a relative rapidly aging and we know that we might have potentially celebrated our last Christmas with them. Or it might be that we are getting close to retirement age and we know that we have to make some drastic changes in our lifestyles in order to continue on. Not so with God.
God is as He has been as He will be. His time is not short, and has never been short. Quite the opposite – God plays the long game. He plays it with history and He plays it in our lives. In history, we can trust that no matter how much it might look like things are spinning out of control, God is playing the long game and is bending the arc of redemptive history toward the recognized rule and reign of Jesus. And in our lives, He is playing the long game to get us to the people He wants us to be through all our joy and pain, gain and loss. God’s time is not short. It’s just right.
So make a New Year’s resolution this year friend. Or don’t make one. But as you are making your choice, remember that God is not. And be thankful He isn’t.