New Year’s Resolutions usually aren’t as bright and festive as our Christmas tree of December; with all the goal-setting and expectations, January can actually be a stressful, dark reminder of past failures. Many of us have set out year after year to lose 50 pounds, start eating better, or quit smoking and each year, we’ve struck out. Now we’re asking ourselves, “Why even bother with resolutions or goals?”
If this describes you, walk with me for a few minutes. December was full of hope and light with the coming of Jesus, right? Isaiah 9:2 tells us, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shone.” Friend, that light isn’t confined to December or to any one part of your life; the light of Christ shines on us the whole year in every corner of our life.
Yes, we know this light affects our eternity, and we love that, but what about right now? The light of Christ, the light of the world as Jesus tells us in John 8:12, does it impact the goals we set for our life? Absolutely! Just as the headlights on a car illuminate the dark highway before us, the light of Christ guides our goal setting. I’ll briefly explain.
Goals and resolutions are meant to accomplish something, but are your January hopes illuminating the construction of your kingdom or Christ’s kingdom? For example, I’ve exercised for my glory and I’ve exercised for Jesus’ kingdom. What’s the difference? Exercising primarily for myself led to vanity, obsession, and eventually boredom – even when I succeeded. Why? Christians aren’t meant to build their own kingdoms, but to usher in God’s kingdom, just as the Lord’s prayer echoes in Luke 11.
In contrast, I can exercise to better honor Christ in my body, more effectively serve him, and demonstrate his perfect provision. With these goals, which both display and invite the light of Christ, I avoid turning fitness into a harmful, vain obsession which can only showcase my finite, unsatisfying, poorly lit kingdom. Do you see the difference?
This year, if once again we attempt to enhance our own kingdoms with self-serving resolutions, it’s very likely we’ll fail again. God’s children are meant to glorify Him in all things (1 Corinthians 10:31). Maybe we’ve failed so often because we’re glorifying the wrong kingdom! We’ve tried to lose weight or quit smoking, not to manifest Jesus’ light here on earth, but to shine light on our personal kingdoms of self-esteem and sex appeal. There’s nothing wrong with looking and feeling better, but it’s all about what your improved body points yourself and others towards. Your light or his?
If you want to make your New Year’s Resolutions just as cheery, bright, and satisfying as your Christmas tree, align them with the advancement of Christ’s kingdom of light, of which there will be no end (Luke 1:33).