Resolution making can be dangerous business

Curtis Shelburne

Please forgive me for beginning here with a probably painful query, but, if I may ask, how are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? Maybe a better question at this point in the calendar is not how they’re coming but if you even remember the resolutions that you made!

I very effectively solved that problem in my own life a number of years ago: I quit making New Year’s resolutions. For a number of reasons, I resolved to quit resolving at New Year’s.

First, like most of the other mere mortals I know I rarely ever kept those resolutions anyway.

Second, and please forgive me for being blunt, but I long ago noticed that the very few folks I know who keep most of their New Year’s resolutions most of the time always seem to forget one. They fail to tack onto the end of their list of resolutions the one that says, “I resolve not to be a condescending self-righteous twit when interacting with mere mortals who’ve broken most of their resolutions before Martin Luther King Day.”

Third, I’m discovering that New Year’s resolutions can be physically dangerous. I’ve been visiting in the hospital a good friend and church member who recently resolved to take a walk each evening. (As resolutions go, that’s not a bad one, especially if you enjoy taking a walk. Along the same line, I’m thinking a resolution to take more naps might be one I just might be able to keep for a week or two.) But it was one of those “resolution walks” that landed him in the hospital as he was backed into one evening by another good friend of us both. This resolution business can be dangerous. (And I’d resolved not to mention this. See how good I am at keeping resolutions?)

Some spiritual health concerns are actually even more worrisome. I don’t mean to get on your doctor’s bad side here, but if you’ve spent much time around folks who have successfully quit smoking and also dropped twenty or thirty pounds, you might be pardoned for briefly wondering if it’s better to die sooner, albeit fat and on fire, and still have folks who want to attend your funeral. Most folks shy away from the glow of self-slung haloes.

Well, you know I’m kidding. Mostly. But the Apostle Paul was serious when he taught that one of the most important functions of the “law” is to drive us to grace (Galatians 3:24). The best thing our finest resolutions can ever do for us is to force us to realize how very weak we are and to drive us yet again to the mercy, the grace, the power of the only One who is truly strong.

It’s good for us to be driven to realize that we’re no good. It’s good to be a lot less impressed by our strength and completely impressed by His.