By, Lysandra Osterkamp
“Commit thy way unto the LORD; Trust also in him;
and he shall bring it to pass.”
“No more treats! No more carbs! I’m done. I have to stop this, I’m out of control! This new year starts a change, I’m going to behave myself and control my appetite.” I spoke these words to my husband on December 27th this year…and every year for the past 18 years!
Sound familiar? If you’re like me, every January you make a resolution to be more self-controlled. Your struggle may not be the same as mine. You may be fighting social media consumption, alcohol, addiction to work, sexual sin, or any number of other aspects of life that can spiral out of control.
I get it, the struggle is real! The thing is, we think we’re struggling against food, sex, or alcohol when, in reality, we’re struggling against ourselves. All these things that threaten to consume us are ultimately our flesh wanting what our flesh wants.
Our natural unbridled self wants to fulfill every lust and every desire every time. Our natural self has no limitations and no thought for consequences. It just wants what it wants when it wants it. It reminds me of my toddler throwing a fit for that treat before she ate all her vegetables.
Being controlled by our flesh does not please God. He made us to be controlled by one person: His Holy Spirit. If we are being controlled by any other force, it is not only hurtful to us, but it is sin. As we see in Ephesians 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”
We all fight addiction or lack of self-control in one area or another; my addiction is food. Philippians 3:19, “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” This verse has always been one of conviction for me. There are times my appetite becomes my god. I allow myself to submit to it rather than to the one true God. It never ends well; usually with me crying when I can’t zip my jeans.
Often my New Year’s resolutions, like many of yours, start with great intentions and end in flames mid-February.
So, what’s the answer? Do we stop making New Year’s resolutions? Are they foolish and pointless? Not according to Daniel. In Daniel 1:8 we see this, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank:” I believe making a resolution, making a commitment, or purposing within our heart is a good practice that honors God.
The problem is when we give up on the resolution or commitment and go back to giving our flesh anything it wants. Here are a few suggestions for keeping those resolutions.
1. Pray before making a resolution. Ask God to show you the resolution you need to make.
2. Make a resolution that’s possible to attain. Don’t resolve to eat only seeds for twelve months. That’s not sustainable, practical, or healthy. Purpose in your heart something that’s attainable and sustainable.
3. Make your commitment very specific. Set parameters which are easy to understand and remember.
4. When tempted to fall off the wagon, quote pre-memorized Scripture on the topic of your addiction. Pair that with prayer, allow God to help you face that temptation, and give you the victory.
So go ahead, make that New Year’s resolution! But this time allow the Holy Spirit to take control. Take that New Year’s resolution and set it down at the feet of Jesus. Allow him to be the one to give you the strength to keep it.
When you make a New Year’s resolution with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and allow Him to do the work, the results will amaze you!