Well here it is January. The decorations are packed and the schedule is returning to normal. Sometime in December I started thinking about the New Year and that feeling of dread came over me — you know, the one you get when you know its time to go to the dentist.

The feeling that with every New Year comes NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS… A New Year and fresh starts. Maybe I’ll take the negative approach and resolve to end my bad habits.

Or take the positive route and start eating healthy, exercise more frequently or read more often.

The truth is I’m not really excited about taking a good look at myself and changing. I certainly don’t want to exercise, that hurts. Give up chocolate — no way! I often hear people say to one another, “Well that’s the way God wired you.” Did he? So, I did some research to see what I could glean from His word.

God called a scripture to me. Paul said in Romans 4:18-20, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

WOW! Now there is the human nature summed up in a few sentences. So I thought about some of the things we tend to “resolve” to change. We want to lose weight, exercise and manage our time more effectively.

We could resolve to quit swearing — that’s a good one. All of these are great resolutions, but are they sinful? Swearing is an obvious one. In James 3:8 we are told, “but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Great, then I’m off the hook since “no man can tame the tongue”. But I can try.

Read down a bit further to verse 9: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.” How can I deny that truth?

How about losing weight, does God care what I eat and weigh? This one took me on a fact-finding mission. There is plenty said about eating in scripture.

The Bible does not say, “Thou shall not have cheesecake”. What I did take away was that God gave us food to serve us — not for us to serve it. We can attempt to manipulate food to mold and shape our bodies, but in the end was that what God intended?

Food was often used as a euphemism in God’s word to describe what Christ is to our spiritual lives. It is referred to as part of many celebrations and Proverbs suggests that a dry crust of bread is better than a feast with a house full of strife (Proverbs 17:1).

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At a time in my life when I took a close look at my eating habits, it was the First commandment to “have no other God before the Lord my God” (Exodus 20: 1-7) that had the biggest impact on me. I took a good look at what food meant to me and saw that I used food to heal a broken heart, fill in idle time and soothe anxious moments. These were times I should have turned toward God.

What about exercise? 1Corinthians says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1Cor. 6:19-20).

A theme throughout scripture is that we are trusted to manage all we have for God. I was bought for a price and I should maintain God’s house (this temple) as best I can until He asks for it back. Bottom line, whatever we decide needs tweaking in our lives, physically or spiritually, there is guidance. We may find resources in the library, on television, in a magazine or gym, but God’s words are sufficient and complete.

So, I don’t have to wait for the “ball to drop” and the calendar to change to resolve to improve on the person that I am. I have the opportunity to resolve to change every time I allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me.

Does God want me to look inward and evaluate the condition of my body and soul? Absolutely! Just open the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs are applicable, practical and humorous as well. Where else will you learn that “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life” [Proverbs 16: 31]? And here I thought gray hair came from teenagers! Next time you see a gray haired person, talk to them and find out how to achieve a righteous life.

Or, did you know that it is “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife”. Now there’s an idea, but I bet he’ll need a satellite dish out there! Joking aside, there is great truth and comfort in knowing that you are working towards achieving wisdom: “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” [Proverbs 2:6].

I encourage you to seek truth through God’s word — not just today as you wrestle with New Year’s resolutions — everyday! You’ll be wonderfully surprised at how the Lord meets you with his encouraging words and comfort, strengthening your marriage and leading you through life.

Have a Happy New Year!

Sandy Below is a freelance writer from the suburbs of Chicago. She and her husband of 16 years have four daughters and together they are Certified Marriage Mentors.

Copyright © 2002 Sandy Below. All rights reserved.