If you don’t make New Year’s resolutions, you’re in the same camp as most people. According to one survey less than half of us make New Year's resolutions.
From another survey, 80 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions on January 1 give up on those commitments by the second week of February.
For those making resolutions, the most popular goals include getting more exercise, eating healthier, saving money and losing weight.
People choose goals like these because they want to better like themselves and be better liked by others.
Success in reaching our goals requires changes in our behavior. And achieving lasting behavior change requires changes to our character.
There are two types of character: charitable and selfish, also known as good and evil.
Whether we are charitable or selfish (good or evil) is revealed by how we behave toward the people we live with, how we behave toward people who treat us poorly, and how we behave when people aren't watching. The Bible calls these behaviors works and fruit.
Our choices determine our behaviors, and our choices are determined by our character.
It’s natural to choose to avoid making behavior changes. We perceive the expense of energy and potential for failure as a cost not worth paying.
If change seems necessary, we often try to take short cuts to achieving the desired outcomes with the least amount of effort possible.
It's change at a discount. We look for the easy way, because we are naturally selfish. We’re born that way.
Many profitable businesses capitalize on these tendencies to avoid and minimize the cost of behavior change. The diet and fitness industries, pharmaceutical industry, and credit card industries come to mind. They take advantage of our selfishness.
The Bible teaches that lasting, positive changes to our behavior are expensive.
The Bible's solution costs us all that we have and guarantees us all that we need. These lasting, positive changes are a byproduct of the character transformation offered by Jesus when we choose to receive the free gift of His righteousness.
Receiving Jesus righteousness is more than a legal transaction recorded in the books of heaven. It is also a spiritual transaction by which we put on a "new self, created after God in true righteousness and holiness," (Ephesians 4:24 ESV).
No popular self-help book, success guru, or drug can equip us with the ability to accomplish the kind of lasting, positive behavior change we get from the Holy Spirit's transformation of our character. It's only obtained by devoting ourselves to staying in the truth of Jesus.
Jesus' prayer for His disciples is also a prayer for us:
"Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth," (John 17:17 NLT).
God's truth, when allowed to do its work in us, makes us more like Jesus.
We become less preoccupied with liking ourselves and being liked by others. Instead, we become occupied with loving as Jesus loves.
Ellen White, in these inspired words, said it this way:
"Received into the heart, the leaven of truth will regulate the desires, purify the thoughts, and sweeten the disposition. It quickens the faculties of the mind and the energies of the soul. It enlarges the capacity for feeling, for loving," Christ's Object Lessons, p. 101.1