Two Reasons to NOT make any New Year's Resolutions for 2016

My “want-dial” is turned up as high as it can go.

And that’s how it should be.

God created us as needy children with thirsting, craving, desiring embodied souls.

And this is a very good thing.

But I want so many things….all the time and often feel unsatisfied in the core of my heart.

  • What do you really want in 2016?

Most of us want to experience “change.”

And not just any kind of change.  We want genuine, deep, transformational change.

Every year I make well-intentioned resolutions to change.

I have resolved to:

  • Eat less food after 8PM
  • Pray more often with my wife
  • Drink fewer Diet Cokes
  • Call my friends more often
  • Express my anger in a healthy rather than hostile way
  • Gossip less
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Watch less entertainment
  • Listen more than I speak

But I’m embarrassed to report that 99.9 percent of my resolutions were as successful as trying to climb to the moon on a rope made of dry sand.

I’ve already read two scientific studies this year about the effectiveness (or should I say in-effectiveness) of resolutions.  One study said that only 7 percent of the people that make resolutions actually keep them.  The second study dropped the number down to 5 percent.

What do we do if we want to deeply change this year?

Personally, I’m giving up on resolutions.

Now don’t misunderstand me here.

I’m not giving up on change.

When Christ redeemed me from my slavery to sin, I received a new heart and the transformational power of his Spirit.

Check out God’s promise from Ezekiel 36:  26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. 

With my new, living, throbbing heart, inflamed by his Spirit, I can actually change.

But deep change is different than a self-manufactured half-baked resolution.

A resolution is simply a superficial change in my outward behavior, often motivated by a selfish want.

God does not want our external attempts at skin-deep change empowered by our unreliable “will-power”.

Instead, God wants us to live into our new wants because we have brand new hearts.  He wants us to learn to live with internal motivations fueled by the fire of His grace and empowered by His Spirit.

United to Christ, change is now inevitable!  Because we are in Christ, we can now produce actions of love and selfless sacrifice

How does this work in real-time?

Have you heard the catchy phrase, “You will keep getting the results you get, unless you change the thought patterns that you have set?"

Well, rather than wanting to eat less after 8PM, I am going to start asking myself, “What’s really moving me toward eating more and more?  Is it a restlessness or boredom or sense of entitlement after a hard day that I think I deserve?”

Instead of hanging my hat on the fleeting fulfillment of the screaming desires from my taste buds, I’m going to give more attention to the spiritual taste buds of my new heart and the glory of God.

When the hunger begins to haunt me, I’m going to remind myself that I am a child of the living God.  My new heart beats with love towards Him above all because He treasures me.  

My new heart pulses with a desire to prioritize others over my immediate demands.  

What if I called a friend when the hunger began to haunt me?

What if I went for a walk with my wife and prayed with her?

What if I listened more to her as we walked and she prayed, rather than always running my mouth?

Jesus (as far as I can tell) never told us to “resolve.”

But he did command us to “repent.”

Repentance is all about deep, deep change in our thoughts and motivations.

If we can change our minds, with His ever-present help, to reflect his perspectives, our actions will begin to take on new shapes.

That’s what I want this year, as I seek to love God above all and my neighbor as myself.

Will you embrace deep change this year?

Pastor Howard
Senior Pastor
Metro North Church