While we all get ready to usher in 2017, here are 10 New Year’s resolutions for those who strive to follow Christ.
1. Read the Bible.
Make this the year. You hear the weekly readings and recognize the names, but can’t quite place them. Who was Esther again? To whom was Isaiah prophesying? I can’t recall; what was the issue with the Galatians? This could be the year you decide to read the Bible in its entirety. Let it come alive to you once more. Get a deeper understanding of the Bible’s message to you. Do it on your own or with assistance, such as the daily Bible reading plans at biblestudytools.com.
2. Protect your relationship with God.
Make a firm resolution to not let anything in your life become an object of worship except God. That means creating barriers around your faith so that your career, loved ones, ambition, material thing, or status does not interfere with your relationship with God. Not that these things are bad; they are not bad in themselves. But, when they become #1 in our life, God must move down.
3. Guard your tongue in 2017.
No one can watch your tongue but you. Resolve to not speak ill about anyone, and that includes any utterance involving the name of God. Catch yourself before you do. Gossip is like a knife in someone’s back. Decide now that, one moment at a time, you will speak about others only with truth and love, not gossip.
4. Resolve to be known for love.
Through your actions, you can make a name for yourself. Why not change the way you are known by committing to a new you – one of loving acts. Ask yourself daily, “What have I done today to show my spouse I love them? What have I done to build someone else up in love today?” (Even your enemies.) You would be surprised how natural such thinking can be with practice. And the payoff is more fun than anyone dare have.
5. Pray More.
Martin Luther once said, “I have so much I must do today, I had better spend the first three hours in prayer.” Face it, we all know prayer is effective at building our relationship with God. But how many of us really spend time daily with God in prayer? Or does prayer just become crisis management for us? Vow to make time for God every day. And don’t just vow; plan for it. Set time aside for even a few minutes of daily prayer, and feel the sense of peace that comes from the most under-utilized weapon on the saints.
6. Connect to others.
Sure, a smartphone is convenient and a great way to stay in touch with your friends and family. But it also doesn’t allow for the connection to one another we can experience in person. Resolve to limit communication through technology when a face-to-face encounter is also possible. Relationships can be strengthened through personal interactions; technology can make that difficult.
7. Rid yourself of destructive elements.
Think of all the things you complained about in 2016 that you could change about yourself. Maybe it is that destructive relationship. Perhaps it is a bad habit, such as smoking or excessive drinking. Make a list of anything and everything you find negative in your life and remove them while you can. You have the power to change, and that power manifests with the first step. Ask God for help (see #5 above).
8. Add in positive elements.
While you’re removing all the negatives from your life, fill the void left behind with positive people and hobbies. We all have people and activities in our lives that make us feel more spirit-filled and edified when we encounter them. Resolve to spend more time with these individuals, groups and activities this coming year. It all starts with a restructuring of our priorities.
9. Cut the coveting.
Resolve to be content with what you have, and not worry about that others are amassing. Remember, God knows our needs and has promised to provide for us. When we act out of a desire to gain things thinking those things will make us happy, we tend to make bad decisions. God has a plan for you. If it involves the big corner office by the window, great. If it doesn’t, fine; that’s God’s call, not yours.
10. Cool off.
Resolve to be angry less. I cannot begin to tell you how often the underlying issues I deal with in counseling stem from anger. Channel any feelings of rage, which Jesus said are as severe as murder, into worshiping God and serving others. If you need help getting a handle on your anger, reach out to a Christian counselor; they can help.