It started with the Babylonians.

They are the ones who initiated the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. More than four thousand years ago, they began the practice of celebrating the new year with an 11-day festival during which time they made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and get the year started on the right foot. Reportedly, they would vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment as part of their New Year’s resolutions.

Today, it’s a tradition that some take more seriously than others, and yet almost everybody thinks about. Many of us scramble last-minute to come up with something – anything – to resolve and feel guilty if we don’t.

I’ve always found it intriguing that New Year’s Day, with its call to resolutions, lands right between Advent and Lent – both penitential, soul-searching liturgical seasons.

Depending on how you look at it, it can either give you a chance to make up for what you’re Advent lacked or gear up for what your Lent will hold.

Or, maybe it’s neither. Instead, perhaps it’s a chance to kick bad habits and pick up good ones. Either way, the emphasis is on wanting to do better and that’s what all Christians are called to do anyway.

With each passing year, we want to become more and more Christ-like, and follow him more closely in our lives.

Of course, we’re human, which makes this whole New Year’s resolution thing so difficult. We approach it with the resolve to power through it on our own volition. We want to decide what we should do, why we should do it, and how we’ll accomplish our goal.

That sets us up for failure from the get-go.

Let me propose something different this year. In fact, let me propose the best New Year’s resolution you could ever make. Maybe it’s the only one you’ll ever want to make.

Ultimately, it’s God who should decide the what, why, and how of our New Year’s resolutions. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and he knows what we need to do to prepare ourselves for what he holds in store for us in the coming year.

The problem is, we’re often too busy deciding things for ourselves to ask and then listen to what he has rightfully decided for us.

He cautions us against that repeatedly in Scripture. Here are just a few examples:

“Now, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord, your God, carefully observing all his commandments which I give you today, the Lord, your God, will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overwhelm you when you obey the voice of the Lord, your God” (De 28:1-2)

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” (Ps 19:105)

“My son, if you receive my words and treasure my commands,
Turning your ear to wisdom, inclining your heart to understanding;
 Yes, if you call for intelligence, and to understanding raise your voice;
 If you seek her like silver, and like hidden treasures search her out,
Then will you understand the fear of the Lord; the knowledge of God you will find” (Prov 2:1-5)

“It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’” (Mt 4:4)

It’s all about listening.

That, I believe, is the best New Year’s resolution you or I could ever make.


Just that. That’s THE New Year’s resolution. Listen to God, to his voice within you and to his Word in Scripture. Any other resolution, compared to this one, is trivial. Because, when you consider its potential impact, this resolution encompasses all the others.

And then some.

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” (Jer. 29:11)

Listen to God in 2016. Don’t just say you’re going to do it, DO it. Make time and space for it. Listen to him.

It’s the only resolution you or I will ever need.