Grace for Your Failed New Years Resolutions

Chances are you probably made a New Years Resolution.  Many this time of year muster the will power to make the next year greater than the one before.  We set ambitious goals for ourselves and chances are many of us have probably already failed at them by now.  Maybe your resolution was to eat healthier but for lunch today you couldn’t help but go through the drive through at McDonalds.  Maybe it was to read Scripture every morning, but you found that this morning you hit the snooze button more times than you’d care to admit. Following through on resolutions can be difficult.  Creating new habits and adjusting our lifestyle can be a rocky road filled with failure. If your like me, you tend to beat yourself up over the failure.  You may berate yourself verbally or fill ridden with guilt.  Failure can often paralyze us and instantly take the wind from our sails.  Chances are if you have not failed yet, you probably will fail at your resolutions at some point.  The key to follow through is resiliency and being able to bounce back from our setbacks.  Here is where the wonderful and radical grace of God can help us in those times where we fail. Thank God our salvation is not died to our performance, even at New Years resolutions.  The grace of God empowers us to bounce back from our failures and shortcomings.

  • The Gospel reminds me that my acceptance before God is not dependent on my performance, but on Christ's. 
  • The Gospel reminds me that God’s love does not increase or decrease depending on completing my resolutions. 
  • The Gospel reminds me that though I may fail miserably, in Christ I’ve been given His great success. 
  • The Gospel reminds me that I’m free from guilt, because Jesus bore the punishment for my sins.

You see the amazing grace of God frees us from the oppressive burden of failure. In Christ we are free to fail and empowered to get back up and try again.  This truth is absolutely liberating. There is no need to sit and wallow in your failures, God’s grace compels you to get back up and try again.

You may have already failed miserably at your resolution.  You might have committed some grievous sin.  You may think of yourself as an incredible failure.  Yet, with God there is no cease to second chances. Remind yourself of the security, the comfort, and love you have in Jesus Christ, then get back up and try again.

4 Lessons from Jonathan Edwards' Resolutions

Jonathan Edwards, one of Americas greatest thinkers and pastors, was a man of incredible discipline. At New Years he tends to come up again and again because of his personal resolutions. As a young man he resolved a series of 70 resolutions for how he would live his life.  Desiring God put together a great post organizing Jonathan Edwards 70 resolutions into different categories.  You can read them all here. I love reading these resolutions, and read through them again this time of year, because you can almost feel hit youthful vigor, ambition, and drive to live for the Lord. Here are a few of my favorites.

Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

I’d encourage to take a ten minutes or so and read through all 70. By examining these carefully, here are a 4 lessons we can learn about from Jonathan Edwards as we kick off the New Year.

1. We Must Practice the Art of Self-Reflection

Edwards was a man of careful self-reflection. Many of his resolutions involve him examining his behavior. However, he is not just concerned about his own behavior but he is concerned with the sinful motivations that may be underlying his actions. Self Examination is largely losses upon us today. We tend to be too busy to pause and reflect on the state of our hearts. Yet, Edwards thought it was vital for him to regularly check the pulse of his spiritual life. In fact, he would read through his resolutions weekly to remember them and to put them into practice. Perhaps the reason our spiritual life flounders so much is because we do not pause and reflect on our own hearts. We don’t pause and let the Holy Spirit reveal to us hidden sin.

2. We God’s Glory Must Drive and Motivate All We Do

Edwards was motivated by one thing, God’s glory. His faith in God was not kept in a separate compartment away from his day to day life. Edwards was a man who wanted his entire life to be devoted to God and his glory. Many Christians today may confess Christ, but their beliefs and actions do not match up. We may say we long for God’s glory, but we do not live that way. Edwards’ resolutions were the consistent overflow of his theology and worldview. It affected how he thought about his time to how he thought about his eating. If the grace of God does not penetrate to the deepest and mundane levels of every day life, we are missing all that God has for us. The Gospel is holistic, changing the totality of who we are.

3. We Must Live in Light of our Mortality

Edwards was a man who had the faint aroma of his own death in his nostrils. He was constantly reminded of his own mortality and desired to live as if every day was his last. Although we would never say it, many of us live like we are immortal. We live as if tomorrow was guaranteed to us. We goof off and slack off now, because we think tomorrow we can get our act together. Yet Edwards lived his life with the end in mind. He didn’t not want to become an old man filled with regret over wasted time. No matter how young or old we may be, Edwards teaches us to live in light of our mortality.

4. We Must Be Ambitiously Disciplined

These resolutions are incredibly ambitious. It is that ambition that I love about these resolutions. Throughout Edwards life he would fail in the pious perfective goals he set for himself. Although he knew he would not follow them perfectly, he set them any way. He continually sought perfection in this life, even though he knew he could not attain it this side of glory. So often we tend to just give up in our walk with Christ. We think “I can never get rid of this sin” or “I will never be that Christ-like”. We tend to apathetically live our lives letting sin defeat us, all the while failing to realize that sin has lost all power in the life of the believer. Edwards reminds us that we should be unapoloticalcly ambitious in disciplining ourselves for godliness.

As you prepare to Kick Off the next year, dream big. Be ambitious in resolutions and seek after God with every fiber of your being. Resolve to do all for the glory of God and to be found a faithful steward of your life.

Happy New Year!