Friday, 1 January 2010

Making resolutions for the new year? Bah! Humbug!

Can't stand 'em. Never make 'em. But this is the time of the year when all sorts of people come out in favour of the idea.

Over on the most excellent Pyromaniacs blog, Dan Phillips appeals to Proverbs 16:1 and Proverbs 16:9 to argue that God lays on us the duty to plan ahead.

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. (Prov 16:1)

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps. (Prov 16:9)

But I wouldn't have thought that either verse places any imperative on us to make plans. Yes, both proverbs observe that we make plans; that can't be denied and is a natural and inescapable function of being human. But whether this is a good, bad or indifferent thing is not stated anywhere in either proverb—only (in the second half of each verse) that God causes to happen whatever he wants to happen anyway.

Both verses actually seem, if anything, somewhat discouraging of the making of grand plans. So I'm not yet persuaded away from my view that making resolutions are anything more than a slightly misleading waste of time.

And when I turn to the New Testament and read these words in James 4:13-17:

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

why then, I'm simply strengthened in my resolve never to have anything to do with making resolutions ever again.


David McKay said...

I see that Rod Benson has observed that making a resolution not to make any resolutions is also a resolution.

But I'm sure you'd thought of that, too, Gordon.

Christianity Today has a poll on the kind of resolutions you might or might not make, but only allows for no resolution or a health resolution or a spiritual resolution, but not a combination of the last two.

Bruce said...

as long as you only resolve that once

Nathan said...

New Years Resolutions are dumb.

New Financial Year Resolutions are where it's at.

No soft drink or fast food for me this year.