Starting the New Year Right

Are resolutions bad? No. Most of the time they are just our human way of setting goals. Goal setting or planning is not wrong, but wise when we keep in mind the sovereignty of God and His commanded will (Prov.30:25-28; James 4:13-17). Let me help you by reminding you of some important principles to keep in mind as you plan out the year.

First of all, remember that moving on does not mean you have dealt with something properly. This is a subtle delusion that we fall into, especially if we have experienced something very painful to us. Removing ourselves from a situation or relationship is sometimes necessary, but remember that God has a fool-proof way of dealing with difficulties and pain: by confession (1 John 1:9; James 5:16), confrontation (Rom.12:18; Heb.12:14), and renewing your mind and changing your ways (Eph.4:17-32).

Next, look inward before you look forward. You won’t find the answers inside of you, but many times the thing that keeps us from growing is not something on the outside, rather it’s something on the inside. What can pinpoint the cause of internal hindrances with chilling clarity? The Word of God and the Spirit of God (Heb.4:12). In one flash of inward illumination you can discover the areas in your life that God wants you to deal with, so that this year can be more spiritually fruitful than last year. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov.4:23).

Lastly, look upward before you look backwards. Here is where you can avoid overreacting to the past. Many times we can act impulsively like Moses by looking around and not looking up to the Lord. Because of our sinful flesh we can begin to ambitiously pursue self-centered goals that bring comfort, but do not foster spiritual conviction. We may also pursue pleasures instead of the promotion of the Gospel. Before you act with any decisive plans this year, ask the Lord, “What would You have me to do?” You can find the answer to this question by going to the Bible to discover those areas that are most important to Him.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  • How much of the time that the Lord has given me is actually devoted to getting to know Him through His Word and prayer? Begin by making adjustments in your schedule here first.
  • How am I using my spiritual gifts to seek to build the church and store up rewards in heaven? You don’t want to appear before the judgment seat empty handed. You need to serve somewhere now.
  • How much of all the resources that God placed in my hands last year actually went toward His work? How can we be better stewards—not hoarders, but managers—of what God places in our hands for the sake of the kingdom? Plan now at the start of the year to give more toward the kingdom than you did last year and watch the fulfillment of the principle of Christ, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).