Traditionally, many people in the world get inebriated on New Year's Eve, only to wake up sometime the next day not knowing what they might have said, what happened, or with whom. But God’s people can unite in prayer power for God’s will to be done, and for His Kingdom to come. Although this may perhaps sound too religious or “goody-two-shoes,” it is a safe and sane alternative to the typical New Year’s celebrations that dominate cultures around the world.
Gathering together with music, food, games, good conversation, and perhaps an inspirational message right before midnight, along with prayer, make for a blessed New Year’s Eve celebration. Then go home, go to bed, and enjoy the next day without a smashing headache or an upset stomach.
One of the traditions associated with New Year’s observances is the making of resolutions, promises to stop or start something in the new year. On the average, about half of American adults make one or more New Year’s resolutions each year, which commonly include weight loss, exercise, quitting smoking and better money management.
Typically, about 75 percent of people who make resololutions maintain their commitment past the first week, and less than half keep their word to themselves after six months. Numbers vary, of course, and some people actually make the desired changes in their lives. But for the most part, it’s another disappointment and another failure, and it comes up again at the next New Year’s time.
Making New Year's Resolutions was started by early Babylonians. Although this is generally assumed as accurate, no one really knows, but it’s the stuff of great trivial conversation at social gatherings, particularly New Year’s Eve parties. For the Babylonians, the start of the new year was a good time to return borrowed items, such as farming equipment, and so begin the new year with a clean slate. Some believe that New Year’s resolutions began as promises made to the gods, negotiating or bargaining in the hope that the gods would grant some favor in return, such as a good harvest. It was also believed that breaking of New Year's resolution brought bad luck.
The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. Every day is the day the Lord has made, as Psalm 118:24 states, and “we will rejoice and be glad in it.” One can make a resolution or promise to oneself any day of the year, and keeping it or breaking it is in their hands. One thing the Bible does say in Ecclesiastes 5:2,4 and 5 is that if one makes promises or vows to God, it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed— Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”
Setting a goal or several goals at the beginning of the new year can be stimulating, but it’s the motivation to keep the resolution that is important. One can determine to pray more, read the Bible more, go to church regularly, or volunteer more, but these resolutions can fail without correct motivation. The incentive must come from within with purpose and a plan. Even though there might be a setback at times, the best thing to do is to immediately start again.
After months and months of tests to develop an electric light-bulb, Thomas Edison was interviewed by a reporter who asked Edison if he felt like a failure and if he thought he should just give up. Edison replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” After over 10,000 attempts, Edison successfully invented the light bulb. The point is, don’t quit. If it’s a worthy goal, it’s worth sticking to, even if it means starting over a few times. The principles presented next in this series will ensure success in selecting and achieving resolutions.