Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Fail, And What To Do About It

by Kristen Gilles

in Exhortations And Musings

Leaf photo and art display by Sojourn Visual Artists (sojournvisualarts.com)

You can't just "turn over a new leaf"

For all of us fallen humans out there, ringing in the New Year often means anxiously wringing our hands with worry and regret as we’re reminded of our failures to keep the previous year’s resolutions [insert your resolutions here]. Not only that, but we’re often dreading the new year before us instead of persevering with patient confidence, eagerly expecting the fulfillment of God’s never-failing Word in our lives. Rather than letting this sorry scene play out in our lives again this year, I propose that we raise our hands and hearts in thankfully toasting and boasting in Christ alone.

Whenever I spend an inappropriate amount of time dwelling on my failures, I end up making way too much of myself and way too little of Christ. And that leads me to forgetting God’s grace, abundantly poured out for me at all times. I need to remember His grace and that, apart from Him, I can do nothing. I have nothing except what He’s given me by His generous grace. And I am nothing except what He makes me to be through the perfect work of Jesus Christ on my behalf.

I was reminded of the glorious gospel this morning when I read this trustworthy saying in Titus 3:3-8:

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. (ESV)

This amazing good news is the redemption story of every person who has trusted Christ for salvation. And our trusting in Christ was made possible by the grace of God alone.

  • We have not saved ourselves.
  • We could never save ourselves.
  • We will not save ourselves from any future trouble we may encounter.
  • We cannot take credit for any future triumphs we may experience.

No, every failure and triumph of the past, present and future years of our lives in Christ are overflowing with God’s grace to us—we just have a hard time seeing it. That’s probably because we’re so busy boasting in our own strength, skill, wit and wisdom, or beating ourselves up for our lack thereof, in both our failures and triumphs. Here’s how I expressed this truth as “Kristen Gabrielle” (before becoming a Gilles):

I have a hard time dealing with my mess ups. So every New Year I resolve to do better. To be better. To accomplish more. To fix what I messed up the year before. To live without fear or regret. To do away with sin and try harder to please God. I literally resolve to do what I cannot do alone.

  • We need Christ at all times.
  • We need the help of His gracious Holy Spirit to listen and obey at all times.
  • We are carried on the wings of God’s unfailing love at all times.
  • We are held together by His Word at all times.
  • He is sovereign over our lives and circumstances at all times.

And so, it seems the most appropriate resolution we should be making is to boast in Christ alone at all times. We should boast in His grace and mercy which He makes new to us every morning. His compassions never fail us, even though ours continuously fail. We should boast in the One who gives us strength to face each day. He is our strength and our song and He has become our salvation.

We should lift our eyes to the hills where our help comes from. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not allow us to stumble and fall away from His grace. He is the shepherd and keeper of our hearts, even when our flesh and our hearts fail us. God is the strength of our hearts and He is our portion forever.

Make Your New Year’s Resolution With Me

Resolve with me to boast in Christ alone as we enter and live out this new year of life together in Christ. And if you don’t have life in Christ, resolve to receive His gift of salvation and to live out the rest of your days boasting in the marvelous redemption He has accomplished in your life.

With Christ as our strength, salvation and song in the night, we can readily give thanks and rejoice in all circumstances. We can face the unknowns before us, confident of God’s faithfulness to keep us who are in Christ from falling. He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. We can’t complete it. But He has given His Holy Spirit to help us mortify sin and to grow in grace. He sanctifies us and makes us holy, as He is holy.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14, ESV)

As you can see here in Titus 2, God’s grace has saved us and is sanctifying us—helping us to more closely follow and reflect Jesus in doing what is good. So we wait for the blessed hope we have in Christ and make our boast in Him alone.

Here’s to our almighty Savior and perfect Redeemer, Jesus Christ! He is the King of Kings who rules and reigns with sovereign grace over everything. And He has resolved to love us to the very end.

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