“[F]or it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13 NIV)
New Year’s Resolutions—the determination to give up old behaviors or make some other positive change—have turned into something of a joke in our culture. We decide to exercise more, eat healthier, finish that project, start that project, or even just enjoy life more. Then that cheesecake calls our name, the kids get sick, and life interferes with our plans.
Rather than giving up on Resolutions and letting them remain a joke (“Hey, it only took me an hour to break this one!”) let’s consider how we can actually make them work for us. Christianity is all about change—becoming more like Christ. We know that transformation comes from the Holy Spirit working in us, not just our own resolve, but certainly, having resolve helps! Therefore, I’d like to offer one suggestion, which will serve as both a method and an inspiration.
One of the best ways to give the Spirit a foothold in our lives is to memorize scripture. When we are constantly soaking our minds in God’s Word, we are storing up his power in our lives, a reserve upon which we can call when times are hard. Obviously, God’s Word also provides guidelines for living a richer, more abundant life. So here are some verses that give instructions. Pick one to start, perhaps one that speaks to an area in your life that you’ve been wanting to change. Feel free to find another translation (these are all from the NIV) or a different verse that is more relevant to your situation. Then, let both the discipline of memorizing it and the acts of applying it transform your life.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. (Deuteronomy 15:10)
[C]lothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12b-14)