The New Year is upon us! If you’re like me, you are anticipating greater things in 2014, and perhaps a fresh start.
Whatever your plans for the new year may be, are you considering new year’s resolutions? Many people do them, although some consider it wrong for Christians to participate in this practice. But is it?
My conclusion is that while they are not sinful, one must be careful in how to carry them out. I say that new year’s resolutions are not sinful because they fall into the category of Christian liberty. For our purposes, this is the teaching that if the Bible is silent or not altogether clear on a particular practice, then the Christian is free to pursue it so long as it does not cause himself or someone else to fall into sin. Such is the case with new year’s resolutions.
On the other hand, one must be careful in how to carry them out. This is because a resolution is defined as a promise to oneself do or not to do something. James, the earthly brother of our Lord, commanded us to “let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (James 5:12).
This speaks directly to the sanctity of truth, which ought to be paramount for the Christian. In this regard, the Ninth Commandment declares that we shall not bear false witness. To break this command is to intentionally twist or misconstrue the truth. Therefore, to make and then break a new year’s resolution is to violate this Commandment.
In short, if a Christian wants to make a new year’s resolution, he or she is free to do so. But once it is made, it must be kept. For that reason, I would advise setting goals rather than making specific resolutions.
In such situations, it is always good to heed the wise words from the writer of Ecclesiastes: “It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.”