Every New Year finds millions creating a list of resolutions. Making a list is actually a great idea. A study by Gail Matthews of Dominican University showed that those who write down their goals accomplish significantly more than those who don’t.1 Writing down your goals for 2023 is a way of showing that you are serious about them. In fact, resolutions were essential for Jesus and are foundational for your life.
Resolutions Build A Foundation
It’s an interesting word: Resolution. Webster logs no less than 14 entries to cover the many facets of the word.2 At the New Year it usually means “the act of determining.” But, what does Jesus say about making resolutions?
In his book A Journey to Bethlehem, Jason Soroski calls “resolutions” the glue that holds everything together. It is foundational. Soroski writes:
To the musician, a “resolution” is a harmony line moving from a dissonant tone (one that does not fit the melody) to a consonant tone (one that fits). Harmonies can dance and amaze us with varied complexities for a while, but they must eventually resolve.
To the writer, a resolution is the end of a story, the final element of a twisting plot wrought with conflict, finally resolved to an ending where all is well.
To the chemist, it is the separation of a chemical compound back into its constituents, or simplest parts.
To the statesman, it is an expression of the determined will of an elected body.
To the graphic artist, it is the sharpness of the pixel count on a screen, and the quality of the image produced.
By any definition, a Resolution is characterized by a return to simplicity, a focus on sharp definition and determination, broken down to its simplest, most harmonious parts. Without resolution, art, science, government, and life in general all fall into chaos. Without resolution, there is no foundation on which to stand.3
Jesus and Resolutions
Jesus proves Soroski right. There were numerous moments of firm resolution in the life of Jesus that were foundational, not only to who he was but also to what he did.
For instance, at the age of twelve he resolved that the House of God was the place where he belonged (Lk. 2:49). In the wilderness, he resolved to live out his life as Son of God and no other (Mt. 4:4, 10). In his ministry, he resolved to ignore the call of fame and fortune and to preach the Good News in the small villages (Mk. 1:38-39). At a certain point, he resolved to face the enemy in Jerusalem (Lk. 9:51). At Gethsemane, he resolved to go to the cross (Mk. 14:42).
There is even a case to be made that Jesus coming to earth in the first place was a product of his own resolution. Jesus willingly emptied himself of his divine prerogatives, and submitting himself to the will of God, lowered himself to become like us in every way (Phil. 2:5-8).
Four Jesus Principles for Making New Year’s Resolutions
Making resolutions, therefore, can be a deeply spiritual act of obedience. I would suggest four Jesus principles for making your New Year’s resolutions:
1. Each resolution should be born out of prayer.
Jesus rose early every day to pray (Mk. 1:35). He spent extended times in prayer (Lk. 6:12). He prayed before major decisions (Mt. 26:36).
Set aside a substantial amount of time to pray before you start writing down your resolutions. And then, pray over the list until you whittle it down to the essential six or seven.
2. Each resolution should stretch you.
Jesus resolved to confront his enemies in Jerusalem even though he knew what the outcome would be (Lk. 9:51). Jesus resolved to face the cross (Mt. 26:46; Lk. 22:22).
Not every resolution is going to be something you want to do. They should be what God wants you to do – which means a few of them will stretch you to the point of great discomfort.
3. Each resolution should ultimately be about helping others.
Jesus was accused of hanging out with all the wrong people (Lk. 5:30). To that accusation, he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Lk. 5:31). Another time he said – I didn’t come to be served, but to serve – and even to give my life (Mk. 10:45).
As you make your resolutions don’t make them about what you want, or what others expect of you. Make sure they are aimed at pleasing God and serving others.
4. Each resolution should have a measurable outcome that gets you closer to your life goal.
Jesus had one mission – to die for our sins. This is the one reason he came. He had other things he had to do in order to completely fulfill that mission. But, everything else was subordinate to that one mission.
Every goal of your life – every task completed – should serve to take you a little closer to the ultimate mission of your life.
What is the one thing God has called you to accomplish with the one life he has given you?
In light of the answer to that question – what are the seven to ten things you need to accomplish in 2023 that will get you closer to that one life mission?
In light of that, what are the two or three things you need to accomplish in the first quarter of 2023?
These are the questions that keep you on track to the one thing God created you to do.