Have you ever wondered about the origin of New Year’s resolutions? The folks at the History Channel denote the Babylonians, nearly 4000 years ago, as the founders. It was part of a 12-day religious festival known as Akitu. Later the Romans, as a nod to their god Janus (the two-faced god who looked backward and forward), observed the advent of a new year with the intent of improving areas of their lives in need of such.
Author Sarah Pruitt claims that Christians, since early times, have approached the new year to rededicate themselves to Christ. Pruitt seems to be indicating so many today who observe this holiday in a purely secular fashion and wonders if such humanistic emphasis is why so many resolutions fail.
It is noteworthy that the history of making resolutions is so close to religious devotion. Perhaps this is because we, as human beings, recognize our innate inadequacy. Paul, feeling it necessary to defend himself against unnamed critics of his work, wrote that his confidence was through Christ toward God and not in himself (2 Cor 3:4-6).
Paul, so accomplished as a Christian, preacher, leader, mentor, missionary, and more, was always striving to do more for Jesus. He was not trying to earn God’s love and approval. Whether looking back at his successes or failures, Paul, in his love for the Lord, wanted to serve more effectively. He told the Philippians that he pressed on (Phil 3:12), forgetting the past and reaching forward to the future (Phil 3:13). We should follow his example (Phil 3:15-16).
Christianity is not a religion of annual intention. It is the religion of daily determination (Luke 9:23). January 1 is an ideal time to reflect, review, and resolve, but is far from the only time. In a significant sense, each new day for us involves a resolve within ourselves to deny self and dedicate to the Savior.
As I have done every year of my adult life, I will again set out objectives and goals, physically, financially, and familial. Yet, the most important will involve my faith. As always, these will need review, not just in January, but throughout the year. In my prayers today, I prayed for every Christian who resolves to conquer a sin problem, reach a lost soul, be more active in their local congregation, and any other noble aim for the Master.
May God bless each of us with the resolve to be more faithful in our relationship with Him.