So perhaps I should say that I resolve to resolve – and then to keep those resolutions, by God’s mercy and grace – and to include my children in the process.
1. By making resolutions as a family, I have an opportunity to discuss with my children the tension between God’s preservation of our faith and our persevering response in obedience.
If we don’t help little hearts apprehend this tension, New Year’s Resolutions may result in nothing more than a cycle of moralistic intentions and bitter disappointments. If those intentions are wrongly skewed as a righteousness based on works, children can struggle with a false understanding of salvation. Reviewing Jesus’s commands with them provides the framework where we can show that He Himself is the means by which the commands are kept.
2. Kings give orders. Subjects obey. Grateful, adoring subjects obey happily and willingly. Resolutions are declarations that we subjects will happily and willingly honor our King.
Happy and willing are great key attitude words to discuss with children, as Philippians 2:14 admonishes all of us, “Do all things without grumbling or complaining.”
3. Making resolutions that align with Scripture help us meet that goal of bringing all areas of life into a thoughtful, disciplined submission to God.
That general, “I’ll do better next year” catch-all resolution – admit it – is usually forgotten after the first 24 hours. Lists of external self-improvements are subject to changing winds that follow our internal, variable moods. On the other hand, the Word never changes. The commands are right and undeniably divine. And we have access to the Spirit’s generous graces and mercies in keeping them. They are there in the earliest commands in the Sermon on the Mount – “Let your light shine”, “Do not be angry with your brother”, “Let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’”, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – to the final words of the Revelation of John – “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price”, “Do not add to the words of this book”.
4. There is nothing more in the world that I want than for my children to know the Lord.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. ~ 3 John 1:4
If I persevere to live according to the Scriptures, teaching them doctrine and songs of praise and memory verses, going to the Word on my knees with every challenge, joining with other believers in worship to give the Lord honor and praise and to hear His truths preached, discussing difficulties and obstacles and failures with my children, and showing them how I love Jesus and endeavor to make Him Lord of my life – difficulties and obstacles and failures and all, then they will see what it means to walk in the truth. My hope for 2014 is to see all my children walking in that Truth, and so I resolve I will depend wholly on the Lord for my strength, because that’s the best I can do for them.
Oh, my bad, there is one resolution you’ll have to make on your own: Read Scripture with your children. Regular times of Bible reading with the family will set the stage for those discussions about God’s commands and what we should resolve to do and how the Spirit helps us do it. Pray for strength. Pray for mercy. You’ll need it.