Despite the tradition’s religious roots, New Year’s resolutions today are mostly a secular practice. Instead of making promises to the gods, most people make resolutions only to themselves, and focus purely on self-improvement (which may explain why such resolutions seem so hard to follow through on). According to recent research, while as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. But that dismal record probably won’t stop people from making resolu-tions anytime soon—after all, we’ve had about 4,000 years of practice.
So, there is a brief history on how we began this practice. As I looked at other special commemorations for the month of January, I came across a conundrum that was a clash of two observances and how to honor a
January observance and also try to improve behavior for the coming year. I will try to clarify. January is National Hobby month and National Get Organized Month. So, if my favorite hobby is“mañanismo” (I’ll do it tomorrow) or in other words procrastination, how can I be true to my hobby and be observant of “get organized” month? And if my hobby is procrastination and my New Year’s resolution is to be better, but January is National Hobby month, does that mean I wait until February to start? I feel about as torn as Paul conveys in Romans when he says, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” and “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out”. (Romans 7:15, 18b ESV) Can anyone who has struggled with resolutions identify with me? The practice of looking back at mistakes and things we could have done better is a noble endeavor. We can look at our personal lives and our life as a church body. In both cases, there are things that as we look forward we could improve. What overlaps the indi-vidual with the corporate is the need we have of each other to successfully move forward. I think a good text to consider as we ponder what this looks like is found in the book of Hebrews “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one an-other to love and good works. Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”. (Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV) What is translat-ed as “stir up” in the ESV version is the Greek verb that is best understood as “spur” as in the sense of how one spurs a horse in order to get him to move forward or faster. Will you spur me on this year? Will we as a body spur one another on? Will you bear with me as I try to spur you on? Let us move forward into 2018 committed to improve.
Have a wonderful January,