Have you ever made resolutions for the New Year, only to find that a couple weeks, or maybe even only a day into the new year, those resolutions have been broken? Frustrating, isn’t it! One response is: “I’ll never change so I might as well forget it!” Another response is: “Oh well, I tried. I’ll try again next year!” The best response is: “Ok, I blew it just now, but I can start over – right now!”
What about you? What is your response to broken resolutions?
While some resolutions are of a one-time nature (“I will have my friends over for a meal this month”), a lot of resolutions hinge on changing habits. Do I hear a groan?
I remember when I was baptized. I had just turned 8 years old (yes, children DO know what it means to follow Jesus!). Although I really did know that my actions wouldn’t change overnight, I came up out of the baptismal water with the firm resolution to never sin again. I don’t have to tell you how THAT resolution turned out! God changes our direction, saves us, washes away our sins, but He does not often change our habits overnight.
God saves us without any work on our part at all except our choice – that’s grace. But He also is in the process of saving us from sin, from ourselves and the things that hurt us. That takes BOTH our choice AND our cooperation of working out our salvation. Here too, we find grace.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure, Philippians 2:12-13.
We don’t even have the desire to change without God’s grace! He creates that desire in us, then works in us “to do” it. Grace again!
Many secular habit-changing ideas exist in the world, and most are very good. Having determination, looking at the reward, knowing what triggers your objectionable behavior, and substituting an alternative behavior, all are great methods.
But the best place to use those methods is with God’s grace at work in our lives. How do you do this? Here are 7 steps:
1. First, ask God to identify which habit(s)/behavior(s) He wants you to change now. You may already know this. If not, He’ll impress you. One thing about God – He doesn’t usually ask us to change everything at once. That would be overwhelming. But He works by multiplication – He and you will change one thing, and then you’ll find that others have been changed, too – that’s grace!
2. Ask Him for the desire and determination to change this habit.
3. Talk with Him every single day about this habit. Morning is best. Keep letting Him provide the desire to change.
4. Focus on His Word. Ask Him for Scripture that you can take with you throughout each day. Meditate on this Scripture. Put it into your life.
5. When you are tempted with your old behavior, run to the security of God. Repeat your Scripture, talk to God, put your mental focus on Him until the temptation subsides. This step is where the battle gets strongest.
6. Keep repeating this sequence and the old desire and habit will die a natural death.
7. And one more thing: If you “blow it,” go back to God and begin again! NEVER give up!
So if you find that some of your resolutions have already been broken at the start of this new year, don’t lose hope! God wants abundant life for you even more than you want for yourself, and His grace will keep you on track until you reach the finish line. Go with God!
If you find you need someone to help you walk this path, I can provide personal spiritual coaching. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.