Let’s Make Some Autumn Resolutions

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

God approves of New Year’s resolutions. And mid-year, and three-quarters-year, and monthly, and weekly, and daily resolutions. Any and all resolutions for good have God’s approval—if we resolve by faith in Jesus.

I would like to encourage you to make some autumn resolutions. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Well, the examined life is not worth living either if the examination produces no resolutions. What examination and experience teach us is that the unplanned life settles into fruitless routine. The drifting life—the coasting, que-sera-sera, unreflective life—tends to be a wasted life.

The opposite of this is self-examination—life-examination, routine-examination, schedule-examination, heart-examination—followed by “resolves for good.” That’s what I encourage you to do. Here’s why I think God will be pleased when you do this by faith in Jesus.

Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12,

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ

I find this extremely encouraging. Paul prays for us—and I pray for you even as I write this—that God will “fulfill every resolve for good” that we have. This means that it is good to have resolves. God approves of it. It also means that our resolving is important, but that God’s enabling us to “fulfill” the resolves is crucial. Paul wouldn’t pray if God’s help weren’t needed. “The heart of man plans [resolves!] his way, but the Lord establishes [fulfills!] his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

But it matters how we resolve. When Paul says, “every resolve for good and every work of faith,” he is not describing two different acts. He is describing one act in two ways. It is a “resolve for good” because we will it. It is a “work of faith” because we depend on Jesus to give us power to fulfill it. That’s how we resolve—by faith in Jesus.

So Paul says that the fulfilling of the resolve is “by his power.” That’s what we are depending on. That’s what we are looking for when we resolve. We are looking to Jesus who promised to be with us and help us. “I know that through . . . the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:19).

This explains the words “so that” in Paul’s prayer: “...so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you.” When you resolve something good and trust in the power of Jesus to help you do it, then “the name of our Lord Jesus is glorified.” If you depend on your willpower, your name will be glorified.

So Christian resolutions are different from the world’s resolutions. We believe that by grace alone we have been “called”—that is, captured by the truth and beauty of Christ. We resolve things not to make God be for us, but because he is already for us—that’s what his call makes plain. He opens our eyes to see and trust Christ. He shows us, in the cross, that he is totally for us. All our resolves are to walk more worthily of this calling.

They are faith resolves—faith that we are loved and called and justified. And faith that therefore Jesus will help us do what we resolve to do. When we resolve like that, the name of our Lord Jesus is magnified.

So pause sometime soon. Pause and examine your life this autumn. Examine what is missing that should be there. What is there that should be removed? What new dreams for ministry might you venture? What new habits do you want to build into your Fall schedule?

Remember: God will be pleased with new resolves for good if you resolve by faith in Jesus. I am praying for you “that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power.”

Seeking to glorify the Lord Jesus with you,

Pastor John