Are you making any New Year’s resolutions for 2019? If so, it’s likely that your resolutions will include at least one of the following:
Save more money
Get more exercise
Make new friends
The above are some of the most common New Year’s Resolutions according to a 2018 YouGov poll. Of over 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed, 37% wanted to save more money, 37% wanted to get more exercise and 15% wanted to make new friends. The top resolutions for 2019 will likely be similar.
Would Jesus have anything to say about the goals so many have set for themselves?
Save More Money
We all want more money. It puts gas in the tank, food on the table and Apple Watches on our wrists. With all these perks, it’s not surprising that saving more money is a top New Year’s resolution.
What if this resolution was brought to Jesus in prayer? How might Jesus respond?
Maybe He would respond as He did when someone in a crowd asked him about an inheritance issue.
“The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21 ESV)
What would this response mean?
It doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to have a savings account or prepare for retirement. One commentary says, “A selfish or wrongful desire for more does not refer to providing for one’s own needs and those of one’s family.” These days having savings and retirement accounts is necessary for providing for the needs of an individual or a family. Saving money is not wrong.
The problem with the rich man in this is parable is that he trusts in his goods to take care of him. He tells himself he has enough goods saved up. He can relax now. His wealth will take care of him. Do you have the same problem?
Is it your goal to save up more money because you trust that it will solve your problems and take care of you? If so, your trust is misplaced just like the rich man in the parable. Trust in God over money. Maybe our money has “In God We Trust” stamped on it as a reminder of this. Save money, but make sure you don’t go spiritually bankrupt.
Get More Exercise
At the beginning of every year, the gyms are full of people trying to fulfill their resolutions to get more exercise. It’s an admirable goal. Exercise provides many benefits like improved sleep, improved mood and reduced risk for heart disease. These are all positive things.
What if the resolution to workout more was brought to Jesus in prayer? What would He say?
Maybe He would bring to mind what Paul wrote to his protégé, Timothy. “While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).
What would this response mean?
It affirms that exercise is of value. The verse says that “bodily training is of some value.” There’s no doubt about that. The benefits of physical activity are well documented online and offline. Consider, however, that even though healthy practices can help you live longer, those things can never give you eternal life. Living a godly life full of faith in Jesus is the only thing that can help with that.
On her blog, The Daily Lane, Hannah Gonsman writes, “We are surrounded by men who are dedicated to working out their physical bodies but too lazy to exercise their spiritual life.” Her article is about more than working out, but her point here is that some men are physically fit but spiritually sick. It’s not just men. Many people are more concerned with their outward appearance rather than their inward, spiritual appearance.
There’s no problem with trying to lift more at the gym. While you’re at it, don’t forget to lift your hands in prayer and praise towards God.
Make New Friends
Friends are fantastic. You laugh with them, cry with them, go out with them and stay in with them. Who wouldn’t want more? Enough people want more friends to make it one of the top New Year’s resolutions.
What if this resolution was brought to Jesus? How would He respond?
Maybe He would say the same thing He said to the disciples at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
What would this response mean?
It doesn’t mean you should only make disciples and never make friends. Put another way, it doesn’t mean that you should only preach at strangers instead of trying to strike up friendly conversation. That would lead to a lonely existence. We all need friends. Even Jesus has close friends. Of the 12 disciples, James, John and Peter were considered the closest to Jesus.
This hypothetical response means that you shouldn’t prioritize making friends over making disciples. You share lots of things with friends. Share your faith with them as well.
In an article about Non-Christian friends, Danielle Kimmey shares, “I’ve had this one non-Christian friend a long time. But recently, I realized that when we hung out, I wasn’t being very Christlike. Not that I was doing anything terribly wrong, but my faith wasn’t making a difference in her life. And if anything, her lack of faith sometimes brought me down.”
Kimmey’s faith was not making a difference in her friend’s life. If anything, her friend’s lack of faith was exerting a greater influence. Many Christians are involved in relationships like this. Their faith has no influence on their friends. Yes, make new friends but let your faith make a difference in your new friendships. Don’t just settle for having friends to do fun things with (though that is important).
Rethinking Your Resolutions
There’s nothing wrong with New Year’s resolutions. The three resolutions mentioned above are great resolutions to make. If kept, they could improve the quality of your life.
The danger is that you could end up looking at resolutions only in terms of yourself. Your goals for next year should not only be about you. Consider making resolutions that honor God and bless others. Rethink your resolutions from this perspective.
What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2019? Share in the comments below!