The Anti-New Year’s Resolution Blog posted by jwatson on Dec 29, 2014
Why talk about New Year’s resolutions in the same old tired, worn out fashion?! Everyone knows that only a small fraction ever see the light of February.
First, resolutions usually concern changing a behavior that’s been in place for decades. An overweight fifty-something makes a resolution that he will begin an exercise program in the New Year. Really? He has not done meaningful exercise since his high school football days. Or a financially undisciplined person makes a resolution to begin following a budget. I doubt it. This person does not have a clue how to even establish a budget. Second, these resolutions are initiated by extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic simply means external. The external motivation is the calendar passing from one year to another, combined with some news story mentioning that it is time to think about making your resolutions for the next year. News flash – He will not be exercising more than a week or two. Extrinsic motivation seems to get extinguished rather quickly.
By the way, the Bible never speaks of resolutions. But, you say, it does mention vows…and isn’t a vow another name for a resolution.
Vows are exactly what I want to discuss here. They are not the same. In fact, they are quite different. Resolutions are made to ourselves, usually driven by the emotion of the moment. If I make a resolution to refrain from desserts six days a week (certainly one dessert is not problem) and I make that vow to myself, there is a problem lurking. When that next dessert is tempting me, I have a conflict with “myself.” “Myself” made a resolution to “myself” and “myself” wants that dessert! The first time the resolution might win out…and perhaps the second and third time. But, before long, the “myself” voting for the dessert wins out over “myself” who made the resolution. Why cause “myself” this emotional turmoil…bring on the chocolate cake – and make it a big piece!
Vows, on the other hand are to the Lord, and are driven by an intrinsic (internal) desire to grow spiritually and become more conformed to Jesus Christ.
As usual, the Lord needs no help from me in explaining this. He has done it Himself quite ably and succinctly in Deuteronomy 23:21-23…
“If you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from vowing, you will not be guilty of sin. You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.”
That is really quite clear, isn’t it.
So, let me recap. First, this blog is not promoting the making of resolutions. In fact, I would encourage you not to waste your time.
Second, this blog is not about making vows. If you do not possess an internal drive and desire to grow spiritually and become more conformed to the image of Christ, DO NOT…I repeat DO NOT…make any vows to the Lord. You will not keep them. Remember, if you refrain from vow making, there is no sin. However, if you do vow and then do not fulfill it, you will be guilty of sin.
We could quickly compile quite a list of habits, disciplines, attitudes and actions that, if we pursued them or refrained from them, whichever might be the case, would positively impact our spiritual maturity and our progressive sanctification.
I hope you will consider a vow or two. But only if you remember that your vow is not to yourself and your vow is not to that habit, discipline, attitude or action put in the spotlight…your vow is to the Lord. That is serious business! But then, our relationship with our Lord should be serious business.