The experts say it takes three weeks to change a habit and then three more weeks for it to become the new habit. How are you doing? We are in week three of making changes; that is if we even bothered to try. The idea of resolutions beginning in the new year has been around since Ancient Babylon. The following quote is from history.com.
“The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.”
The Babylonians were concerned about making changes and keeping promises in order to satisfy their gods. They were striving toward being who their gods wanted them to be and if they didn’t, they considered that they would be out of favor with their gods. This idea of resolutions for us is a little bit different. Most of the time, we make resolutions to better ourselves for ourselves. Here are the five most popular resolutions for Americans according to the internet.
- Exercise more
- Lose weight
- Save money
- Eat healthier
- Reduce stress
I’m sure, if you are honest, some of these were included in your thinking for change this year. We are always talking about striving to make these types of changes. Now we are three weeks into these changes, and we’re wondering what changes we were thinking we were going to make. I know that some of you actually do follow through and have accomplished some of your goals. The majority, however, are probably more like me and allow life to get in the way of changes to habits. What comes to my mind even now as I write this, is that our resolutions are so self-focused and yet we can’t seem to focus on them. Does that make sense? I think it’s time for a change in our resolutions.
The Babylonians were concerned about pleasing their gods for the coming new year. As followers of Christ, we know God, the real God, the one and only God, the creator of the universe, and the Father of all who believe. This is so exciting and should encourage us to pursue him in our daily lives. What if we made our resolutions more God-centered than me-centered? What if we added Bible reading, prayer, memorization of the Word, or service to others to our resolutions? If we did, we would begin to know God more. He calls us to know him and be in relationship with him.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
If we make our resolutions about our growth in Christ, will we fail? You bet we will! We are still sinners, saved by grace, but sinners none the less. We are going to fail, get up, fail again, and get up again. The wonderful thing about God is that he doesn’t base his favor on our performance. All of the grace we receive from God is because of what Jesus did for each of us on the cross. The Babylonians were trying to please their gods, but Jesus pleased God once for all in his death, burial and resurrection. In fact, Jesus doesn’t give up on us and tell us to hit the road or get away from him. He says, “Come.”
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
We’re three weeks into January with plenty of time to make some changes in our lives for the glory of God. What do you need to change? How can you make the effort to grow in the knowledge of the Lord? Where can you look when you fail? You can look to Jesus who says “Come” to each one of his children. This life can throw lots of potholes at us, which can cause us to stumble and fail, but Jesus tells us to get back up and “Come.”
May today be the day when growing spiritually is the most important exercise you can do!