The start of a new year is a great time to make resolutions to change and grow. It has come to symbolize a fresh-start, and the beginning of this new stretch of 365 days seems to give us a stronger resolve and motivation to achieve the changes and growth we desire. Resolutions typically have the same goal: self-improvement. It is common to hear about dieting plans, exercise programs, intellectual pursuits, etc. In church, it is common to hear Christians resolve to evangelize more, pray more, and read through the Bible.
If you are like me, you have made New Year’s resolutions in the past, but have forgotten about them by the end of January. It is like the person that purchases a gym membership works-out for a day, a week, a month maybe. Then, they quit. I quit. We quit.
Why do we quit though; is there something wrong with our resolution? No, the problem lies within us. We often make resolutions with a vision of the end-product, but we don’t always anticipate the challenges that we will face in our pursuit of change. It becomes easy to quit because we have not made a plan for our success.
If we look to Scripture, we can see a resolution that includes a plan for success in Psalm 119:9-16. The writer’s resolution is moral purity and closer communion with God:
How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O Lord!
Teach me Your statutes.
With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.
The writer reminds himself that God’s Word is the solution to following through with his resolution. This is an important point. We cannot achieve the kind of growth and change in moral purity and close communion with God that we desire without God’s Word being our guide. The writer realizes this necessity and gives six practices for ensuring he will fulfill his resolution.
1. Memorize God’s Word
By memorizing God’s Word, we prepare ourselves to fight temptation. The only offensive weapon we have is the Word of God (Eph 6:17). This practice allows us to quickly access a verse that will aid us in our time of temptation. When we combat temptation with Scripture, we prevent ourselves from driving a wedge between us and clear communication with God.
2. Study God’s Word
When the we are committed to walking blamelessly before God, we will desire to know more of God’s Word. We will put our effort into understanding the truth of the Bible (2 Tim 2:15). We will recognize that God speaks to us through His Word, and we will know His presence in a fresh way every time we open our Bible.
3. Proclaim God’s Word
When we are actively engaged in learning more about God through His Word, we are compelled to proclaim that Word so that others may know God. We will be overjoyed as we glean truth from God’s word and want to share it with others. We will also recognize our duty to proclaim the message of God (Acts 20:26-27).
4. Treasure God’s Word
The psalmist relates the joy the word brings to the joy of financial prosperity. When we are committed to Christian principles we will recognize the value of God’s Word. We will understand the joy of standing before God as an obedient servant. We will delight in obedience because we delight in right relationship with God (Psalm 1:1-3).
5. Meditate on God’s Word
The believer that is committed to Christian principles meditates on the Word of God. This meditation is taking the Word that we have hidden in our heart and investigating it. It is examining it like a jeweler looks at a diamond. We will consider it moment by moment and allow it to nourish us throughout the day (Phil 4:8).
6. Obey God’s Word
The committed believer recognizes that true joy and satisfaction comes from obedience to God’s word. When it comes to growing in Christ, we are all kinesthetic learners. We learn best by practice. As we obey God’s Word, we will maintain moral purity and benefit from a closer communion with God.
Take this New Year as an opportunity to grow in your walk with the Lord. And this year, know that you have a plan for success. Look to God’s Word to guide you and hide its principles in your heart. Take time to investigate its claims and then share your findings with others. Learn to see God’s Word as the gift it is and meditate on it moment by moment. Put its commands into practice and you will live a life that is pleasing to God!
Director of Admissions
Northeastern Baptist College