The new year around the corner. It’s a time when people make resolutions. I hope you manage to lose that weight and get straight A’s and take that Alaskan cruise. But, life is a vapor, and bodily exercise profits only a little. Foolish is the one who gains the whole world and loses his soul.
As you think about changes you’d like to make for 2019, allow me to suggest ten spiritual resolutions. These are things we should have been doing all along. Decide this is the year to successfully adopt these habits (2 Cor. 6:1-2, Jam. 4:17). They are all designed to help us draw near to God (Jam. 4:8).
1.) Read your Bible every day. The Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It’s the basis for our salvation (Rom. 1:16). It causes us to mature. “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2).
People are vulnerable to religious deception and moral feel-goodism simply because they don’t know the Bible. There is nothing more important to growth as a Christian than reading the Bible in 2021. If you read one chapter a night, it will take about nine months for the New Testament, and two and a half years more for the Old Testament. A notebook for questions and a highlighter to mark profound spots will be helpful.
2.) Pray every day. No one was closer to the Father than Jesus, and yet He prayed often (Luke 5:16, 6:12). Prayer is communication (Philippians 4:6) which results in tranquility and assurance. Furthermore, prayer changes things (James 5:16-18). Prayer should be part of our regular relationship with God in 2021 (Col. 4:2).
The key to building the habit of daily prayer may be to schedule it with something else—for example, do not allow yourself to eat breakfast until you have read a chapter and prayed. Do it for a month, and it will become second nature.
3.) Attend every service. Assemblies are crucial, whether Sunday for the Supper (Acts 20:7) or Wednesday for study. In assemblies, we worship together (Col. 3:16) and meet the Lord (Matt. 18:20). In assemblies, we build each other up as family (1 Cor. 16:20). We “stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (Heb. 10:24-25). If you don’t feel excited to come (Psalm 122:1), make it a promise to come to every assembly in 2021 anyway, and you will soon act yourself into a better way of feeling.
4.) Contribute sacrificially. Giving is a commandment for every Christian, for every budget, for every first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1-2). As we support the kingdom, we produce glory for God (2 Cor. 9:12-13). As we give, we focus on eternal things (2 Cor. 9:7). We learn what’s important and rely on God (Heb. 13:5). Sit down with your spouse and purpose in your heart what to give each week in 2021!
5.) Invite a friend to worship services. Evangelism is a commandment (Mark 16:15-16, Matt. 10:32-33). Introducing a friend to Christ makes you a part of the process by which God is spreading salvation throughout the world (1 Cor. 3:5-7, John 4:31-32). According to a survey by the Pew Research Group, 25% of people who do not go to church say they would if a friend invited them. Resolve to invite five friends in 2021!
6.) Eliminate a Lingering Sin. I hope we won’t wait for a New Year’s resolution for this. But in reality we may still struggle (1 John 1:8-2:1). Repentance is vital to growth and salvation (Luke 13:5, James 4:8, Psalm 32:2-4). If a lingering sin has you on your back foot, try to follow the four points in (Acts 19:18-20). Make 2021 the year to gain victory.
7.) Reduce Distractions. Overcommitment is as big a problem for the church as outright sin. We are too busy. We have no time for our family or our God; spiritual life is struggling to find space (Matt. 13:22). Learn the difference between what’s urgent and what’s important (Luke 10:38-42). In 2021, eliminate one extracurricular activity, or devote one hour every night to TV-less family time. The days are short (Eph. 5:15-16).
8.) Assist in a Bible class. Teaching is the most vital contribution to the community and the church (Eph. 4:11, Matt. 19:14). Becoming a better teacher will help others be saved, and help you be saved (1 Tim. 4:16, 2 Tim. 1:5). Teaching, first children and then adults, prepares you for shepherding, too. Take a slot in 2021!
9.) Serve your brethren. Religion is shallow without responding to needs (James 1:27, Acts 20:35, Phil. 2:5-7). This doesn’t have to be huge, like replacing a roof or fixing a car. It can be cooking a meal, offering a ride, sharing clothes (Acts 9:36-40). Decide you’ll do at least one good turn each month in 2021.
10.) Do good to your spouse. Our spouse is our most important relationship (Col. 3:17, Eccl. 9:9, Matt. 19:6). Don’t leave it on autopilot. Devote time and energy to it. Get emotionally invested in it. You’ll thereby provide a great environment for your kids, and you’ll be a pillar of your congregation, like Priscilla and Aquila. Decide that in 2021, you’ll go on a child-free date once a month, or out to dinner once a week.