I suppose it’s time to talk about New Year’s resolutions. First, let me state that I hate New Year’s resolutions. Psychologists tell us it takes at least six weeks of sustained discipline to either make a new habit or break an old habit. They also tell us that six weeks is the average length of time that it takes most of us to abandon a well-intentioned New Year’s resolution. So why bother?
On the other hand, resolutions are like mini-Lents. We analyze our behavior, feel God leading us to change, and make a good effort to follow his guidance. So maybe what I hate is my inability to make a New Year’s resolution stick longer than Lent.
OK, so let’s give it a try. After all, New Year’s resolutions are biblical. Think about it! A resolution is based on:
1. Acknowledgment of a harmful behavior.
2. A confrontation of that behavior.
3. A repenting of the behavior.
4. A conscious decision to turn away from the behavior.
5. A change in direction.
One of the most poignant parts of the story of the three Magi who follow the star to see Jesus is what happens at the very end of the passage:
Matthew 2 (The Message)
9-10 Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!
11 They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.
12 In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.
“They worked out another route.”
Having experienced the Messiah and encountering him PERSONALLY, they changed direction.
I suppose that is a New Year’s Resolution in a nutshell. Encountering Jesus in a personal, life-changing way…and then never going back to the old things. And by personal, I mean the on your knees, heart open wide, spilling your guts, and pleading for mercy kind of personal. Followed by accepting him as Savior and changing direction so that you commit to following him for the rest of your days.
Where is God calling you to work out another route? Where do YOU need to change direction in your life?
Christmas was all about encountering the Christ child. New Year‘s is all about finding different routes in your behavior.
And so we begin.