New Moment Resolutions: Why New Year’s Resolutions are Irrelevant

NOTE:  Originally posted on

The New Year is a time of renewal reminiscent of the fresh starts each school year brought when we were children.  Starting fresh is intoxicating to those of us encumbered with a litany of bad habits and regrets we would like to leave behind. Overwhelmingly those who resolve to leave baggage behind each new year fail.  Most can make it a couple of weeks, a few for a couple of months, and a small minority past six months.

As the habits and regrets each day mount, we trod along hoping for another fresh start fix.   Like junkies we crave a fix and decide to move, or change jobs or one is forced upon us through the tragedy of divorce, fire, or death.  With each start we once again resolve to change only to fail again.  Our hope for the next new year renews and the cycle repeats.

There has to be a better way.Imagine waking up each morning with a fresh start.  Even better, imagine feeling the euphoria of a fresh start each moment.  I think the apostle Paul understood our desire to start fresh.  He was tormented with a “thorn” in his flesh that he prayed for God to take away from him.  Even with something weighing him down but he was able to advise the church in Corinth on how to get a fresh start.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

That’s good news!  Tormented Paul was able to have his fresh start every day.  By calling his trouble momentary he put into context the weight of the world we so often feel.  Our eternal glory “far outweighs them all.”  Paul extends this concept to the church in Colossae:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Colossians 3:5&9-10

Stopping short of calling it a sin, Christians are missing the point when they make New Year resolutions.  To make a yearly resolution is to deny the power of God in their lives.  God wants us to make new moment resolutions. Through Christ He provides a fresh start for each moment of our lives.  We can literally make a new resolution immediately following our failures and be free of the months of guilt usually felt waiting for the next start.

Some of you noticed that I dot dot dotted out a big portion of Paul’s message to Colossae.  Here it is again with the entire message:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Colossians 3:5-10

That list could just as easily have made it onto any list of popular resolutions.  Paul knew the burdens of our life and the joy and peace believers can realize through Christ.  Some preach that failure is an opportunity for guilt, but for the heart that resolves again, God provides an opportunity through Christ for peace in that moment, and every moment.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7


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