My New Year’s Resolution

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:1–2 

Well, that was a year. For many of us, the past year was the most stressful year of our lives. Maybe this year wasn’t the most painful or the most tragic—but stress?—this year had that in spades. You don’t need me to recount all of the trials that COVID–19 lockdowns, racial unrest, and political tension has brought into our lives. You know it; you lived it.

Making Resolutions

At the end of most years, we all typically sit back and reflect on what the past year brought us. We think about the good, the bad, and the ugly. These thoughts then lead to resolutions for the next year. Resolutions typically revolve around our deficiencies, or areas of life where we feel we need improvement. They sound something like, “Next year, I resolve to”

  • work out five days a week.
  • read three chapters of the Bible every day.
  • spend one day a week without my smartphone.
Our business sensibilities even lead us to make sure they are SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Nobody should be setting goals outside of their reach, should they?

Internal Deficiencies 

As I reflect on 2020, if I am honest with myself, I see a lot of deficiencies. You know what? Scratch that—I see something far worse. I see a bunch of idols. I see a bunch of “small g” gods in my life that I have been fearing, loving, and trusting in above all things. And though it is painful to admit, I have been trusting in all sorts of things in life to keep me safe. Trusting in the people I support in political contexts. Trusting my own health and fitness. Trusting in my own actions, and distrusting those of my neighbor. The list goes on and on, but I have placed my trust in things that are not God.

Martin Luther taught us that the whole of a person’s life should be one of repentance. Well, dear friend, I have a lot to repent. And tomorrow, I’m going to have some more. And in repentance, there is only one place to go. St. Matthew recounts Christ’s comfort to us:

Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

So, I have a New Year’s Resolution for 2021. Truthfully, it is going to be my resolution every year. I think it should be yours too. It’s not a SMART resolution; it isn’t measurable, and it certainly is not attainable. Well, we can’t attain it, but there is One who has attained it for us.

Here is my 2021 resolution:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
    and He will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.

Proverbs 3:5–8

Dear friend, resolve to make your life one of daily repentance. A life of daily, hourly turning back to the Lord. Look at your life and your actions, and find your idols. Turn from them, repent of them, and find joy in your Savior. Find joy in Christ, who wants nothing more than to give you His gifts.

That’s my New Year’s resolution; will you make it yours?

Follow the New Year’s resolution of Proverbs 3:5–8 by starting a Bible study centered around the Book of Proverbs and the Ten Commandments.

Order Provoking Proverbs


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Written by

Joe Willmann

Joe Willmann is the senior instructional designer for Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis, Missouri. A former teacher and administrator, Joe has a passion for education and learning theory. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Ball State University and his master’s degree from Concordia University Ann Arbor. He lives with his wife, Nicole, his daughter, Ava, and his son, Carter.

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