New Year’s Resolutions: Thoughts from Galatians

It’s New Year’s Eve, I am thinking about whether or not to make a New Year’s resolution and if I do what to go for. I am currently reading through the book of Galatians and so decided to go through it and see what was applicable to this topic.

The first thing I noticed is Galatians 1:10 which says: ‘Am I trying to win the approval of men or of God?…’ In other words: is this for me or for God? Galatians 2:16 warns us that we are not justified (made right with God) through the law (the rules we try to follow) but by faith in Jesus Christ. This means if I decide to make a ‘spiritual’ resolution, for example to read the Bible each day I need to examine my motives. Is it a good reason such as I want to get to know God better and spend time with him? Or is it because I think I should?

Next I note that that the only thing Paul is asked to do by the other Apostles, as he takes the gospel to the Gentiles (non-Jews), is that he remembers the poor (Galatians 2:10). I find this very challenging because it is a reminder that I need to be telling people around me about Jesus and seeking to help the poor in my day-to-day life. As it says in Galatians 6:10: ‘as we have opportunity let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.’ In fact Galatians 5:14 puts it like this: ‘the entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself”. Therefore the real question is what daily changes can I make which enable me love others more? Are there lonely people I could set a reminder in my phone to message or phone every few days? Could I volunteer to help the needy in my community? Should I review when and how I give to charitable causes?

Finally I am challenged to spend time in God’s presence each day by Galatians 5:16-26. This passage is about life by the Spirit, verse 14 helpfully tells us how we can see more fruit and less sin: ‘…live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.’

So to summarise if I do decide to make a resolution I need to make it for God and if it is spiritual my focus should be on getting to know God better rather than following a set of rules. Other good areas to think about are evangelism, the poor and helping others.  

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