On resolutions

The notion of resolving is not getting a great deal of love upon the nets this year.

The three links have critiques of the idea of resolution making of varying quality. I agree with ideas in each. Boyd’s sermon has a lot of good information in it about the Old Testament covenants being fulfilled in Christ and practicing God’s presence.

Anyhow, resolution making seems to have received this bad rap for several reasons (these are speculative):

  1. People think that resolutions are merely a New Year thing. The word really just means “a goal somebody resolves to complete.” Read any old journal and there is a good chance that the author makes several resolutions to self-improvement per month.
  2. The Tullian interview linked above implies that the only reason that people try to improve themselves is to be accepted and loved by others. I call bologna on that:
    1. People might be introspective enough to note their own flaws and wish to ameliorate them.
    2. Sometimes it is important to be accepted by others on their terms. For instance, God tells Cain, “If you do well, won’t you be accepted? (Genesis 4:7)”
  3. People are under the impression that we should avoid setting ourselves up for failure because we might become obsessed with our performance. The thing is, if our goals are the kinds of things we might fail at, then they are sissy goals. If we try to prevent the psychological trauma of doing poorly by not trying to be excellent then we’ll be stuck.

Here are my own thoughts about resolutions and goals:

  1. Examine yourself ruthlessly and fearlessly (AA style).
  2. Always remind yourself that a strenuous life is better than a lazy life.
  3. Revise your goals often.
  4. Revise your affairs based on those goals often.
  5. If you’re a Christian, then make your goals based upon the person of Christ and his teachings and trust him to help you do them. But, you still have to do them. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)” The corollary then is, “With me you can do things.” Not, what many people infer, “You shouldn’t do anything.”

So, make goals, make resolutions, fail at them, feel bad about your failure, try doing it a different way, and repeat. It’s the only path to improvement.

Appendix:

My other thoughts on resolutions and goals:

  1. Goals and the Epistle to James
  2. Keeping up with the Joneses
  3. Christians and Goals
  4. Exercise Goals
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