By Sue Peppers, Contributing Writer
There is something about January 1st, the beginning of a new year, which makes us to want to start over; to renew; to make changes in our old ways. It’s an old custom that began about 3,000 years ago with the Babylonians. It’s not at all “unbiblical” to want to change. In fact, it’s totally biblical. Change is what happens to us when we are justified by Christ. How and when we change is determined solely by the Lord, as we are sanctified by Him. So, absolutely, change is a good thing.
The better question is “Why do I wish to change?” We must always check our motivation before the Lord. Do you wish to change in order to please the people around you, or is it to please God? Scripture reminds us:
“Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.” ~ Romans 12:2
What are some of the things you typically resolve to change? To read your Bible more? To quit a bad habit? To reduce debt or improve your income?
The #1 resolution people make is to lose weight and exercise more. Scripture is not silent regarding our attitude about such things. Let’s take exercise, for example. 1 Timothy 4:8 tells us to keep exercise in perspective:
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
Since this is a Biblical Marriage blog, and NOT a singles blog, you likely already understand that any behavior you change can’t help but collide with your spouse at some level. So, if you are convicted about a needing to change, check your motive before the Lord, and discuss with your betrothed. Ask yourself:
- “Why do I wish to change?” If your answer includes the need to have the acceptance of others, or to be more “like” those around you, then your motive is “People Pleasing”.
- “Once changed, what do I hope to gain?” If your hope is for peace of mind, self-satisfaction, guilt reduction, or pride, then your motive is likely “Self Pleasing”.
There may be a mistaken belief that your spouse will love you more, treat you better, or be more attentive, “if only I am able to change”. If this is the case, there is a much deeper issue brewing in your marriage. Changing yourself in an effort to change a behavior in your spouse is manipulation, and not God honoring. Instead, talk over what is bothering you, and go to God together in prayer.
It is not wrong to wish to please your spouse by changing a bad habit, not as long as you truly seek to FIRST please God, to honor Him, and to obey His commandments. We can become so obsessed in our own desire to change that we fail to see what God’s desire is for us. A man who wishes to become healthy may take up marathon running or cycling for hours or days at a time, neglecting quality time with his wife and children. A woman may become over-obsessed in her desire to lose weight, with complete disregard for her own good health or the care of her family.
Making New Years resolutions often comes from feelings of past failure, being out of control in some area of your life, a fear of the future or, plain and simple, a lack of faith in God’s power over your sin. Assess each area that is concerning to you, and search the scriptures for God’s truth behind your behavior. Chances are you have made these same resolutions before, and failed to keep them. Are you really relying on God, or on your own power to change? Who is in charge?
John 15:5 declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Conviction to change will come as you search the scriptures for God’s sovereign will. Your commitment to change also comes from the Lord. Ask your spouse to encourage you to stay in the Word, and pray for God’s perfect plan.
1st Corinthians 11:31-32 tells us, “We should judge ourselves. Then we would not be found guilty. When the Lord judges us, he corrects us.”
Bottom line…pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) in regard to what resolutions, if any, He would have you make. Don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory for all accomplishments. Psalm 37:5-6 says,
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”
Resources: www.GotQuestions.org, The Holy Bible