92% of New Year's Resolutions are not followed. We experience a lot of pressure to make resolutions designed to change our lives in the New Year. These pressures come from others around us, as well as from within ourselves. When we don't fulfill these resolutions we often experience guilt, disappointment, even despair. "I'm worthless," some think. "I can't even keep a simple new year's resolution.
Lamentations 3:22-23 tells a different story. God says that his love is so steadfast, so resolute, so unfaltering that He will never cut us off or withdraw His love because of our mistakes or failures.
In fact, He goes further. He says that His mercies are new every morning. What does this mean? It means that He wipes the slate clean, not just at the beginning of the year, but every morning
! Think of a giant white board covered with writing with various colored markers, listing all your faults, failings, sins and broken promises. And then see all of them disappear with a swipe of His hand.
That's what happens when we awake each morning, confess our sins, ask for forgiveness and then dedicate the new day to the Lord. Every day can be New Year's Day - and it can happen every day of the year.
Try starting with a small resolution - just for today. Perhaps you might ask the Lord to help you be kinder, or more patient - today. That is certainly a worthy goal for a year - or for a lifetime. But sometimes we just can't handle a year. Start small. Let the Lord help you succeed one day at a time. With time you can look back on a year in which your attitude was kind and patient - most of the time.
Are you ever going to be perfect? Of course not. Then why does Jesus say, "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect"? (Matthew 5:48)
To understand this you need to look at the Greek word (teleios) which is translated in this verse as "perfect". It has several shades of meaning. One is "finished." To finish something, we must first start something. Another is "complete". Again, to complete a task, we must begin it. The last, "of full age, mature", sheds the most light on what Jesus meant.
Jesus didn't expect His followers to wake up one day and find themselves perfect. No, He expected them - and us - to start where they are, and move toward the finish line. He told Christians that they must always advance towards maturity in Him, not stopping when they made mistakes, but pressing on to completeness.
The passage above in the Book of Lamentations ends with this statement: "Great is your faithfulness!" You can't do it yourself. You can make resolutions until the day you die, but you won't be able to keep them in your own strength. That's why the Bible says that "His right hand and His holy arm have given us victory." (Psalms 98:1)
Do all you can to do what you know is right. Seek the Lord every day in every way, and avoid temptation. Remember that every new day is a new opportunity to follow the path God has laid out before you.
But don't ever think that when you succeed you did it on your own. Acknowledge that He is your strength. Thank Him for His faithfulness. And praise Him for His mercies that wipe the slate clean every day, and allow you to go forward in joy, knowing that He is making you more mature every day.
Maturity is the result of being tenacious in advancing toward perfection, while knowing that we will never be perfect on this earth. The opposite of maturity is making bold resolutions and believing that we can complete them in our own strength.