Resolved: New Year Highs for the Glory of God

by Jared Tharp

Happy New Year! Right about now most of us are starting to come off our end of the year assessments and thanksgivings and are now shifting into the New Year highs and hopes. I know for me, this time of year (more than any other time during the year) is when I am the most motivated in my life. It’s something about those New Year emotions and ambitions, firing on all cylinders, that just makes me extraordinarily driven, highly optimistic, and incredibly introspective.  

That’s what I mean by New Year highs. I mean all the emotions, and ambitions, motivations, desires, and longings that we have and feel with the New Year season; and for most people, those New Year highs usually come out and are expressed through commitments, or new habits, or resolutions. Are you ever too old to make New Year’s resolutions? I hope not…. I still do! Everything good and right about those things. Being motivated with purpose and driven to pursue goals is a great thing; but for Christians, our purposes and goals should look very different from the rest of the world’s.
Every resolution we write down, every commitment we make, every habit we form ought to be for the purpose of glorifying God and for the pursuit of personal holiness. Whether we set out to go to the gym 4 days a week, whether we commit to reading 20 books this year, whether we become more intentional with friendships, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31); and, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

Consider this month – as you write out your resolutions and contemplate what sorts of things you will add or take away from your time, schedule, and finances – how you can refocus or redirect your New Year highs; to form spiritual habits and resolutions which will bring God glory in your life and give joy to your soul. What you and I need this year are deeply rooted, life enduring resolutions; not temporary and superficial ones.

Jonathan Edwards in his late teenage years (around 19 years old) wrote down an incredible list of 70 resolutions to live by and practice. They are intense, and some of them extreme, but the common thread that can be seen woven through each and everyone of them is Edwards grand purpose and priority in life: cultivate spiritual growth, walk in holiness, and glorify God by enjoying Him forever.
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.
John 6:27
For the last several years I’ve created the habit of focusing on one of Edwards 70 resolutions and making it my singular resolution for the year. What I have found by doing this is that this one resolution becomes not only the filter by which everything else (new or old habits, new commitments, new priorities, new regimens, etc.) flows through, but it also acts like a chisel, slowly shaping my attitudes, thoughts, and character throughout the year.

I want to encourage you to think about how you can redirect your New Year highs and resolutions, as well as to invite you to join me in living out the next 52 weeks with one of Edwards resolutions in view. This year I have chosen Resolution 28:

“Resolved: To study the Scriptures so steadily, and so constantly, and so frequently, that it becomes evident – even obvious – to myself that my knowledge of them has grown.”

Consider these 3 questions below with me as you seek to form better habits this year which will get you into God’s word more regularly, more fervently, and more attentively, for the sake of our joy and His glory!

  1. Where will you study?
You need a dedicated space for prayer and Bible study. Think about your personal space at home and what ways you can make it a “dedicated” space for rigorous reading, studying, and meditating. Where there are fewer or no distractions, and all your attention can be on God and His word. If you do not already have a space for this, consider where and what it will take to create this for yourself!
  1. When will you study?
Are you an early bird or a night owl? You need to be in God’s word when your mind is fully functional and operating. For me, I work best in the early mornings. I can get 3 hours of afternoon work done in 1 hour of morning work. Consider the time which will have the most efficient effect and impact on your study. This may require you to stop doing certain things (i.e. early morning or late evening workouts, late night video game playing or Netflix watching, etc.). What will you have to change or cut out in order to prioritize your Bible study?  

  1. How will you study?
Will you study slowly through one book of the Bible at a time, or will you read the whole Bible in one year? Combination of both? Will you join a men’s/women’s Bible study or Gospel Community group at the Church? God has and will continue doing incredible things through these groups at our Church! Will you journal while you study, or write out notes and observations in a notebook? I personally learn best with pen in hand! How will you get the most out of your study?

My prayer for you is that God would “open your eyes, that you may behold wondrous things out of His word” (paraphrase of Psalm 119:18) as well as “satisfy you with His steadfast love, that you may rejoice and be glad all of your days” (Psalm 90:14). Resolve this year to redirect your New Year highs for the glory of God, as well as for the joy and benefit of your soul!