Retaining Resolutions

by APC on January 07, 2015

It was just days ago that many of us found ourselves ushering in the New Year with various celebrations. Some of us were in specialized praise and worship services in our local church, participating in family get-togethers following time honored traditions, or my personal favorite—partaking in an old-time foot-washing service!

The most common element found within the cusp of the New Year is—you guessed it—New Year’s Resolutions.

This is the time of year when gyms are over-populated with people trying to get into shape, and diet campaigns are inundating all forms of media. New Year’s is the only time of year when a bakery can morph into an actual deserted wilderness, soon to be regenerated into a blooming oasis in just a few months—sometimes even weeks—later.

It’s no surprise that in a good natured attempt, everyone seems to make a New Year’s Resolution. According to Forbes, just 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. That means the whole 92% of us who are left over—including yours truly—never keep their resolutions.

New Year’s Resolutions at best made on a whim, based on a momentary inkling. We don’t put much thought into them, and therefore, have a small tendency to keep them. If the resolution is unattained, we’re only letting ourselves down. And, because the resolution wasn’t too important to begin with, we’re okay with not having it fulfilled in our life.

Not all resolutions we make in our life can be treated in such a way.

Many times in our walk with God we make promises (resolutions/vows) regarding our spiritual life, commitment to activities, etc. Sometimes we bargain with God by saying, “Lord, if you would just do ‘X’ I promise I’ll do ‘X’.” If you think you don’t have a claim to that tactic—think again. We’ve all done it in one form or another.

The issue here is that we’re not making a resolution or a vow just to ourselves, we’re making it to God. And, the difference? God expects us to keep it.

If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth (Numbers 30:2, KJV).

“Vow” in this passage of scripture is from the Hebrew word neder, which means a vow of personal service or offerings. “Oath” in this passage is from the Hebrew word shebuah, which means promise. Scripture tells us that if we make a vow of personal commitment/service or a promise to the Lord, we cannot break it. God expects us to fulfil what we have pledged to do!

Scripture warns us in Ecclesiastes 5:5 that “better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (KJV). Basically, it’s better that we don’t make a vow, than if we make a vow and don’t do it.

God has always been faithful to us (II Timothy 2:13), and is unchanging at His word (Malachi 3:6).  He will continue to stay faithful even if we aren’t faithful to Him. In making resolutions and promises to God, we’re not just letting ourselves down if we fail. We’re breaking a promise to the God of the universe—the Lord of our life.

In the grand scheme of things, we ask ourselves, “Just how hard is it to keep our promise to God?” Here are some strategies:

  • Pray—Ask God to help you keep you vow. We can pray for the Lord to order our steps and actions and help us ensure that we keep our commitment.
  • Set Reminders—In this digital age, we don’t have an excuse for forgetting things with the myriad of reminder apps. Set a reminder each day to tell yourself to keep your commitment! If you’re a paper person—put it on a sticky note and tack it somewhere you’ll see it each day!
  • Ask for Help—If you’ve made a spiritual commitment to God, find a Saint in the church who is already doing what you want do! Talk to them about strategies for keeping your commitment and glean from their experience. They might be willing to mentor you and pray for you as well!

If we truly make an effort to keep our vows (promises) to God at the forefront of our minds and seek ways to keep our commitments, God will bless us tremendously. And, before we know it—another year will have passed and we’ll be staring New Year’s back in the face once again. This time, being successful in attaining our vow.

As James 5:12 tells us quite simply to, let our “yes” be yes and “no” be no. Don’t make a resolution to God you don’t intend to keep.