There’s something about a fresh start that people can’t seem to resist. If you have a bad day, tomorrow is a new beginning. Moving to a new place? You can start all over and make things better than before. And of course, there’s New Year’s. Americans celebrate each new year as if it’s the perfect chance to reinvent ourselves. To be better, more dedicated, thinner, stronger, richer, or pretty much anything you can imagine.
Wherever we can find a point in time for the old ways to end and the new ways to begin, we feel hopeful for change. And oh how we love to set goals! But our New Year’s goals often go unachieved.
As Christians in this culture, we sometimes get so caught up in the minuscule new beginnings of a year or a day that we forget we’ve been given the ultimate new beginning.
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:14-17 ESV
We are new. From head to toe, inside and out, Christ has transformed us and we don’t need a new year to motivate us to lose weight or work harder. In Christ, when we lean into and pursue Him, we are free to become who He created us to be.
This is the part of salvation called sanctification—the part where the Holy Spirit is constantly refining us until we get to meet Christ in heaven. These are the days when every moment is a resolution to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in our lives.
New Year’s resolutions are not bad or impossible in and of themselves. It’s when we decide we want to change something about ourselves for the wrong reasons that we run into trouble. If our true identity lies in Christ, He is the source of our success. It is in His strength that we are transformed, not our own.
It seems no accident that many of the most common New Year’s resolutions are also things we learn about in the Bible. The things we most long to change about ourselves in the next year, may well be things God wants us to change. But instead of taking on the self-reliance of a New Year’s resolution, why not take on the Christ reliance of a holy resolution? Instead of pushing ourselves to be what we want to be, what if our resolution was to strive to be what Christ wants us to be?
Love your body.
Perhaps the best example of a resolution gone awry is when we decide we will lose weight. If your weight is at an unhealthy level, there’s nothing wrong with that goal, but what is your real motivation? Vanity? Fear? Coveting the way other women look?
Here’s what it should be: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV). Yes, you should take care of your body and feed it healthy foods, but not to achieve a certain weight or “look.” It should be to honor God through your stewardship of what He’s given you.Instead of taking on the self-reliance of a New Year’s resolution, why not take on the Christ reliance of a holy resolution?Click To Tweet
So many women today are trying juggle a million different things, from careers to school to children and volunteering. Our goals often reflect that drive—this year, I want to grow my business more than ever, etc. But as you make those resolutions, reflect on your “why.” Who or what is driving you? Here’s what the Bible has to say: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24 ESV).
Create a more supportive community.
If you have a PCS ahead of you, you may wonder what your new community of friends will look like. Maybe you have a great group of friends, and you hope to reconnect on that level in your new home. Or maybe you struggle with community where you are right now and you hope it will be different in the future. Either way, God does want you to have a supportive community of believers around you. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5 ESV). As you strive to build community, be sure it is supportive of all of the varied ways different people fit into God’s plan. Fill those new relationships with kindness and spur others on in their faith.
Get out of debt and save money.
If you want to change your relationship with money in 2018, we are your biggest cheerleaders. Whether you’re struggling with debt or with finding a way to save money, the way we pursue and use our incomes can say a great deal about where our hearts are (Matthew 6:21). Though your goals for money in 2018 are awesome, make sure you reflect on how you reached the mindset you have now. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24 ESV). How did your spending in the past interfere with your relationship with God? What did your spending habits reveal about your attitude toward and beliefs about God? How will changing it allow you to draw nearer to Him in the future?
But make sure it’s the self-care you really need. Even Jesus made time for self-care, and His choice of how to use that time tells us exactly what we need: “But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:15-16 ESV). The Bible also talks about specific instances when Jesus withdrew for prayer. In fact, during perhaps the most distressing hours of His life, the ones just before His death, were spent in prayer. He even gave His disciples direction on this matter: “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1 ESV). If Jesus did everything else perfectly in His life, it follows that His version of self-care is the perfect recipe. If you hope to improve in this area in 2018, be sure that quiet time spent in prayer is at the top of your to-do list!
When you know that the year ahead holds deployments or long separations and other trials, it can be overwhelming to survey the months ahead. But you are not alone as you walk into these challenges. Make one of your resolutions to face these days with faith in God’s sovereignty and power—He’s right there with you. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV).If 'self-care' is your word in #2018, be sure #prayer is at the top of your to-do list.Click To Tweet