Why do we make New Year’s resolutions? I haven’t done any research so this is just my perception, but I imagine that most resolutions do not stand the test of a busy life.
One of my jobs in seminary was working the front desk at the campus gym. Around this time every year we would get incredibly busy as people woke up insanely early to work out and shed those pounds they vowed they would lose in the new year. By the time March rolled around, however, things were back to normal. All of the “resolution exercisers” were back to doing what they had always done. Their desired rhythm of life slipped back into their old way of doing things. So if most of them fail, why do we do them? Or maybe we’ve stopped doing them because we’ve noticed that we hardly ever kept them. If we weren’t going to keep them than why bother, right?
Two words which are different, but related: new, hope. The reason we make resolutions is because deep down we long for newness. We know that some of the patterns that we have fallen into are not healthy for us and we long to change. We long for newness. The New Year, merely gives us the occasion to dream up new patterns, new life. Hope. A new year means new beginnings. The chance to do things differently, a chance to make the right choice and not be bound be the previous year(s). And this prospect, fills us with hope doesn’t it?
The Bible talks about these two words a lot. In fact, 1 Peter 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection from the dead.” New birth. Living hope. That is why we make resolutions. But instead of this being a yearly thing, we are told that new birth and living hope are daily realities of God’s grace.