New year, new you… right?
As the ball dropped over Times Square, more than 40% of the population said farewell to late-night snacking, traded a little extra sleep for early-morning sessions at the gym, made promises to their savings accounts, and pledged to kick smoking to the curb.
According to the most recent Marist Poll, 1,140 participants were asked, “What is it that you will resolve to do or not do in the New Year?” Here are the top 10 responses:
- 13% said they would lose weight, making it the top resolution—yet again—for 2015
- 10% vowed to exercise more
- 9% longed to be a better person
- 8% wanted to improve their health
- 7% committed to quit smoking
- 7% hoped to spend less and save more
- 7% claimed they wanted to eat healthier
- 7% listed “other”
- 5% aspired to land a better job
- And 4% planned to go back to school
For the most part, these ambitions benefit personal health, personal well-being, or personal finance. Unless you personify inanimate objects like your waistline, your wallet, and your refrigerator, at the end of 2015, the only person you improved (or… eh hem… failed to improve) is… you.
The list of resolutions goes on. Also included on the Marist Poll list was, “increase time with family” (3%), “use time better” (3%), “enjoy life” (3%), “stop drinking” (2%), “set goals” (2%), and others. The one resolution that didn’t get much headline attention, having just missed the top-10 list, and coming in at number 11 is “Get closer to God.”
Four percent, or 45 people, want to know their Creator.
While the rest of the world resolved to improve self, I had to step back and ask myself what that statistic meant to me: the believer. More specifically, what was I—and the church as a whole—doing to propel those 4%, and others, towards a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Not only did I want to surrender to God’s plan for my 2015, but I also wanted to know what I could do to grow deeper in my walk with God, while simultaneously helping (perhaps) others fulfill their resolution to grow closer to Him in the New Year (or meet Him for the first time). How could I re-purpose my personal, self-focused resolution into a community-focused declaration? What could I resolve to do that would make a difference not only for 2015, but for all eternity?
It was as if the answer was whispered over my shoulder: Resolve to be a blessing. If we, as Christians, want to draw closer to the heart of Jesus in the New Year, what better way than to practice living—giving—as He did? Not only will giving re-energize your heart, it could revolutionize your community and cause an eternal ripple effect.
Our Savior gave the ultimate gift: His life. But He also gave of Himself. Over and over again. He poured out His heart for His creation, never putting Himself first. Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
If you desire, as I do, to know Christ more intimately this year, resolve to “get to know God” by resolving to bless others with your resources. Consider setting up a blessing fund. Give financially from the outpour of blessing God has given you. But do it anonymously. Matthew 6:3-4 says, “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
Pray that God will show you opportunities to give, hearts to pray for, and souls who need encouragement. Practice giving—both your time and your money— in secret, so as not to gain any recognition or status. It will not only benefit you personally, but could help others get to know God through you.
Shedding that extra weight will make a difference, yes. But it will only make a difference for a little while—while you’re still here.
This life is but a vapor (James 4:14). What will you do this year to point others heavenward? What will you do to today, this year, to cause a ripple effect of positive change that carries into eternity? Resolve to be a blessing. After all, you may just bump into one of those 45 people hungry for an encounter with Jesus.