Another year has come and gone and as we reflect on the year, we may be reminded of last New Year’s Eve when we made resolutions. As we ponder, we may recall these resolutions that slowly faded out of our lives or perhaps new habits that remained. So how did this tradition begin?
Interestingly, New Year’s resolutions have been around for longer than we may realize. About 4000 years ago, the Ancient Babylonians held a twelve day religious festival called Akitu. During this festival they would plant crops, appoint a new king, or reaffirm their loyalty to their present king. The Babylonians would also make promises to their gods to pay back their debts and return borrowed items. They believed that the gods would look favourably on them if they kept their promises.
Over the years these traditions continued and in 46 B.C, in Ancient Rome, Julius Caesar implemented a new calendar year. This declared January first to be the beginning of the year. This honoured the two-faced god, Janus, who was able to look back in the previous year and into the new year. The ancient Romans would offer their sacrifices to the god and would make promises of good behaviour.
During the Middle Ages, knights would lay their hands on a live or roasted peacock and would renew their vow to chivalry as a resolution to maintain their knighthood. Although we may not be praying to the gods or laying our hands on peacocks, are we making resolutions to give glory to ourselves or to God? When we consider how this tradition began with pagan roots, how can we, as Christians, use it to glorify God? Is it possible to make these resolutions part of our Christian lifestyle?
Let’s consider how as Christians we can make lasting, God-glorifying resolutions. According to studies, it takes 21 days for a habit to form or break and 90 days for that habit to become a lifestyle. Therefore, in order for our resolutions to become lasting changes in our lives, we need to commit to them for longer than the first week of January. As Christians we have the blessing of a large community that surrounds us. One of the blessings within this community is accountability. We can find two or three others: friends, family members, and/or colleagues, to share our resolutions with and help us stay accountable.
So we’ve come up with a plan to help us make a lasting resolution, but what are those resolutions going to be?
Here are some resolutions that we can implement into our daily routine:
- Spend more time in prayer. God calls us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We know that if we address our Father in prayer He will hear us. In Philippians 4:6, we read “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”.
- Read and study the Bible by ourselves and with others. Join a small group or a Bible study where you can learn alongside fellow Christians. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”.
- Be active, living members of our church. This could look like; praying for members, making a meal for a family in need, sending a message to a member on their birthday, or sending words of encouragement to a brother or sister. These are little things that can make a big difference to the people around us.
- Be active citizens. In a world that is becoming more secular, we need to stand up and let our light shine before men (Matthew 5:16) whether this is by making a more conscious effort to pray for our neighbours, our politicians, our world leaders or by helping organizations fight for our freedoms. ARPA has set up ‘easy mail’ for us to conveniently email members of parliament. Take advantage of this, send emails, show our concerns with decisions the government is making.
So, as we reflect on the past year and look on to the New Year, let’s look at what God has done and is continuing to do. When we magnify the Lord and look at our future in the eyes of Him, we see and experience everything in faith. God is bigger than all our troubles and He is merciful. We can take comfort in the fact that our future has been worked out in Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
As you are contemplating those resolutions this New Year’s Eve, will they further your relationship with Him and ultimately bring glory to God? What are you going to work on in 2022? Feel free to comment what your resolution(s) will be this year in the comments below! What will you write?