“Far better not to vow in the first place…” (Ecclesiastes 5:5)Are you tired of making New Year’s resolutions only to watch them vanish like smoke as the following weeks ensue?
I’d like you to consider two very opposite things as this new year begins.
First, what does it really mean to make a promise? We human beings have such precious little follow-through that the Bible actually states it’s “better not to vow!” (Ecclesiastes 5:5). Many times, promising only serves to make us feel better in the moment as we make the resolution. Doing so truly grants us nothing in the eventual outcome. We simply experience further disappointment and doubt in our own sincerity and whether or not God can accept us.
“Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you . . .” (White; Steps to Christ, p. 47)
Second, I would like you to consider a very different option this new-year. Instead of making promises, try just choosing to believe a few.
This one is one of my favorites:
“Therefore, tell Israel, ‘Message of GOD, the Master: I’m not doing this for you, Israel. I’m doing it for me, to save my character, my holy name, which you’ve blackened in every country where you’ve gone. I’m going to put my great and holy name on display, the name that has been ruined in so many countries, the name that you blackened wherever you went. Then the nations will realize who I really am, that I am GOD, when I show my holiness through you so that they can see it with their own eyes.
For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed [i.e. other-centered], not self-willed [i.e. self-centered]. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!” — Ezekiel 36.22-28, The Message
That is a pretty amazing promise concerning the kind of work God wants to do in each of us! In the Bible, there are so many promises that He makes to us about so many precious things. What we need is not greater resolve but greater faith. I want to challenge you, for the next few weeks, instead of making new year’s promises from you to God that will fade over the next few weeks into regret and remorse, go find five promises that are especially meaningful from God to you. Repeat them daily over the next few weeks and choose … to believe.
Happy New Year!