New Year’s Resolutions – why are we so persistent in making them? And why do so many lose the resolve so soon?
These questions are not exactly the great mysteries of the universe. But they do reflect on a much deeper issue that many are unwilling to face.
So – let’s think about how this usually goes down:
- We recognize that something is not right, or is off-center, with our lives, our relationships or our bodies;
- We think we have a fix on where we want or ought to be;
- By some form of reasoning we develop a plan of action to affect the desired change; many times we even tell someone or set them up as accountability partners;
- We buy something(s), or we join something, or we simply layout a schedule to accomplish our plan.
Why then, after all this, do the vast majority of people fail to see success in their Resolutions?
In the first place most of us fail to determine the root cause of the problem we want to fix. For example, one of the most common resolutions is to lose a certain amount of weight. So we decide to eat less, or eat differently, and maybe begin an exercise regimen. However, there is always a deeper reason a person over eats. It may be loneliness, or lack of self-esteem, or some other, less apparent, problem.
Let’s say a “career focused” dad resolves to spend more time with his wife and children in the New Year. However, if he does not address the real reason, this primary thing that has driven him from the family in the first place, he may kill himself trying to live out that resolution. He will simply be adding more stress as he seeks to squeeze time from a full schedule. Unless he realizes he is driven by another something, a desire for success, ego, money, power, etc, he will fail in this commitment, and potentially do more harm to the family or himself.
At this point we can say that this person has allowed something, some person, some desire or some goal to become so dominant in their life that it has control of them. We may want to call them something else, e.g. psychological problems, driven to success, desire for independence, and on and on. The reality, though, is that this one thing has become, as the Bible says, an idol.
An idol is nothing more than a “counterfeit god.”
A “counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.” (Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller). In our affluent, well-educated culture, we disavow the existence of ‘idols.’ We believe we each are the masters of our own destiny and can “fix” any issue.
“Whatever controls us is our lord. The person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by the people he or she wants to please. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our lives.”(Out of the Saltshaker by Rebecca Pippert)
Our Creator, however, has an infinite, unconditional love for each of us. He knows us intimately because He created us. There is nothing that we can put into our lives, or that we can do, that can even come close to the wholeness He freely offers us through Jesus. He shows us The Way to replace all our worldly desires with a singular focus on Him. Followers of The Way have the Spirit of God resident, and He provides all that we really seek:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)
Good things that can be a pleasure in our lives, when they become idols, drive us to destruction. A piece of fine dark chocolate can bring great pleasure to most people. But an addiction to chocolate can be destructive to your body. Unfortunately, even many who claim Jesus as their Lord continue to battle these desires of this world. While our human nature (as well as the American creed of independence) fights the idea of humbling ourselves to anyone, we delude ourselves into believing those things which drive us are not idols. All the good things we seek come from God and are manifestly available to us – as long as they do not usurp the place of God in our lives.
“. . . yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (I Corinthians 8:6)
So, to make your New Year’s Resolution something that brings about a positive change, for a better life, take some time to determine the base cause of the issue you’re concerned about. Honestly confront them. Then – consider the claims of Jesus. Submission to Him (peace with God) can bring about freedom from all the “idols” of the material world.