It is that time of year again, isn’t it? It’s that time when we anticipate a fresh start. 2014 is upon us. Where does the time go? I looked back at my goals for 2013 and I had to slump my shoulders and sigh. I realized that many of my goals were unmet. Even so, I look ahead to 2014 with enthusiasm and hope.
As my family and I have been talking about and developing some goals for next year, I’ve been mulling over several thoughts. First, I see real value in goals. Some people don’t care much for New Year’s resolutions but it seems to me that goals are useful. Goals provide guidance on how we use our time and energy. Second, we have a tendency to emphasize goals that deal with the body. We resolve to lose weight or to exercise regularly or to establish healthier eating habits. These are noble goals. However, we do well to place a greater emphasis on goals that deal with the soul. Goals that deal with Bible intake, prayer, and committed attendance and service to one’s church family should be among the top resolutions for every believer. Third, goals and change are not synonymous. This is probably the one thought that I’ve been pondering the most. Why are we are so quick to fall off the wagon when it comes to our new year’s resolutions? I attend a spin class at the YMCA. It is interesting to see how full the class is in January and then how quickly the class size drops. We cannot meet goals with the same undisciplined, lazy, and disinterested attitudes. In other words, if we are going to meet our goals we need to change. For instance, if I am inclined to skip time at the gym because I don’t feel like going, why should I expect my resolve (or lack thereof) to change simply because the calendar says 2014 instead of 2013? Or what if I resolve to spend more time with my family? Why would I think that a mere change of date will cause me to rearrange my priorities so that I can give my undivided time to my family? Or how about if I resolve to have ten minute devotions every morning? Will I suddenly wake up on January 1 with a burning desire to spring up out of bed, eagerly read my Bible, and earnestly pray over what I’ve just read? Of course not. We are all painfully aware that goals do not equal change. Goals express our desire to change in certain areas.
I have set some personal goals for myself in 2014. It is good to resolve. As I resolve I must also battle. I must fight my 2013 lack of discipline and laziness, otherwise it will carry over into 2014. I must strive “by the strength that God supplies” (1 Peter 4:11). Finally, as I resolve and battle I must pray. I must daily depend on God’s empowering Spirit and enabling grace to make the changes I need to achieve the goals I have set for myself. As Charles Wesley wrote, “…wrestle, and fight, and pray…” (“Soldiers of Christ, Arise,” 1749). In the end, the Christian view of good and godly change is sanctification. When I view New Year’s resolutions from this perspective, the gospel redeems my new year’s resolutions. Therefore, as I achieve my goals by God’s grace, all the glory belongs to Him alone.