Let’s be honest; new habits are hard!
Even when we start New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions, our actions don’t always measure up to our ambitions. According to U.S. News World & World Report, 80% of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions. Whether you set a goal for 2021 or you’ve had it for even longer, falling short can feel disappointing, sometimes devastating. Below are three important reminders to renew your enthusiasm and set your mind to a godly perspective.
1. Results require God’s provision, not just our efforts.
As a naturally disciplined person, I tend to believe that hard work and self-determination will get the job done. While a diligent work ethic is certainly commended in the Bible, we fail to see God’s plan when we trust in our efforts alone.
Psalm 127:1 reminds us that true achievement requires not only our effort, but also God’s provision:
“Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain.”
I love this concrete picture of man’s diligence and God’s oversight. The Lord is described as “building” and “watching,” both active verbs that display His participation in each respective event.
However, what if the builders did not actually pick up their tools and start working? What if the night guards chose to sleep and believed God would do their jobs for them? Yes, God expects us to be responsible, hard working, and wise, but He is very much a key player in our success. It is imperative we seek His guidance and blessing.
If you feel discouraged after failing to meet your New Year’s resolution, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I sought God’s will in this endeavor?
- How does this lifestyle change bring glory to God?
- Have I honored God in my pursuit thus far, even if I haven’t met my specific goal?
2. Invite God into all of your goals, even the “non-spiritual” ones.
You might wonder, “Why does God care whether or not I’m eating carbs? Or whether I read 40 books this calendar year?” If you’re a Christian, no part of your life is off-limits to God. Relationships, diets, finances, exercise, work, leisure activities—God cares about them all.
Too often we compartmentalize different areas of life, including faith. We feel that doing a morning devotion checks off the “God box” on our to-do list, and then we move on to other “unrelated” tasks. Establishing a routine to spend time with God is important. It is just the beginning, however, of God’s involvement in every aspect of our lives.
In 1 Peter 5:7, the apostle says to cast “all your cares on him, because he cares about you.” Some translations say to cast your “anxieties” on Him. God invites us to bring ALL of our cares—any decision, any struggle, any burden—and toss them onto Him because He genuinely cares for us as His children. If something matters to you, it matters to Him, because you matter to Him.
Additionally, when we receive Jesus’ gift of salvation, we accept a new identity as a follower of Christ and child of God. Our lives no longer belong to ourselves, but to Him who redeemed us. In 2 Corinthians 5:15, Paul says, “those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.”
The way we spend our lives, our time, our talents, and our resources should be for the purpose of honoring God.
If you are struggling with a resolution or goal, take it to God in prayer. Cast this care or concern to Him, knowing He cares for you. Ask God to show you how to move forward in a way that glorifies Him.
3. Consequences happen, yet grace abounds.
In Galatians 6:7, Paul says, “For whatever a person sows he will also reap.”
Intellectually, this concept is not hard to understand. If we don’t put gasoline in our car, the car won’t run. If we exercise daily, our muscles will grow stronger. We diminish this reality, however, when we come up with excuses and negate responsibilities that are rightfully ours.
Part of evaluating goals is taking an honest assessment of our actions. If you have not met your New Year’s resolution, reflect on the past few weeks from a place of honesty. What actions kept you from reaching your potential? At any point, were you lazy, selfish, or impulsive?
The Bible is clear that people are responsible for their actions, and those actions have consequences. However, the Bible is also a story of limitless grace for those whose hope is in God. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!”
As long as we walk this earth, we will make mistakes. But in the same way we count on the sun to rise each morning, we can count on God to give us mercy every time we mess up.
We serve a God who loves us and has promised to guide us in all areas of life. If you are disappointed in yourself, bring your concerns to God and ask Him to show you how to walk in His ways. He is always faithful, always loving, and always trustworthy.