New Year Resolutions: Top 4 Tips According to the Bible

The New Years resolution wave is rolling in! Here's some Biblical wisdom so you don't get swept away by the storm of expectations.

9 months ago   •   4 min read

By Jordan Hopkins
Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

Though this year has been different—to put it mildly—I hope you had a restful Christmas with your loved ones.

Have you thought about a personal commitment for the new year? For me, I haven’t had the luxury of bonus time to mull over plans for personal improvement.

I have a feeling you may be in the same boat. We’re concerned about our families. Gathering in person at our churches again. Being able to shop without fear.

Who’s got time for these extra new year plans? Who has the emotional bandwidth to handle more expectations?

Let’s dive into a beautiful Proverb to explore God’s thoughts on this topic...

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the tongue's answer is from ADONAI.
All a man's ways are pure in his own eyes,
but ADONAI weighs the motives.
Commit whatever you do to ADONAI,
and your plans will succeed.
ADONAI works everything out for his own purpose—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.
ADONAI abhors all the proud in heart.
Be assured, they will not go unpunished.
By mercy and truth is iniquity atoned,
and by the fear of ADONAI one avoids evil.
When one's ways are pleasing to ADONAI,
he makes even his enemies be at peace with him.
Better a little with righteousness
than much income without justice.
The heart of man plans his course,
but ADONAI directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:1-9 (TLV)

This Proverb offers four pieces of wisdom you carry on your 2021 journey…

1. Your Plans Filter through God

The Bible recognizes plans start in our hearts. We conceive them, dream about them, and talk about them. We may even Pinterest-obsess over our plans, noting how others are charting their courses.

But then the Proverb throws in this curveball: “but the tongue’s answer is from ADONAI.”

In other words, plans begin in the heart—like fresh water from a spring head—but it percolates and flows by God’s direction.

The answer of the tongue represents our final commitment. Someone’s word is as good as a promise (that’s why the Bible condemns rash oaths).

So, our final answer should come from God. No matter how good or “pure” our intentions may feel, God has the final word.

2. God is Chiefly Concerned about Your Heart

God knows we’re fickle. If we allowed our emotions to guide each decision, I believe the world would be in more chaos than its current state.

So, the Proverb responds, “All a man's ways are pure in his own eyes, but ADONAI weighs the motives.”

"this Proverb teaches the danger of placing our dreams above the condition of our hearts."

Again, when ideas and motivations sprout from within our hearts, we tend to stamp its approval. Our culture teaches us to make our own realities, to be the masters of our own fates. Even in Christian culture, we tell young people that whatever they dream, God already approves of it.

But, this Proverb teaches the danger of placing our dreams above the condition of our hearts. In the end, God “weighs the motives” behind our choices. So, the more we lean on Him, seek Him, and want to please Him…well, those motives will become more pure.

This is not to say our natural dreams never line up with God’s will. Sometimes they will. But, for a Christian, our heart’s cry should default to “Your will be done.”

3. Success is Reversed in God’s Eyes

You’re going to hear countless New Year goals for financial success. What parenting should look like. How to be more present. Fashion trends you've missed. New series you gotta binge. Etc.

The allure of success wraps itself into New Year’s plans with lofty expectations and unattainable goals.

This Proverb, though, uncovers what really matters: “Better a little with righteousness than much income without justice.” In other words...

  • Better for you to be poor in the world’s eyes, but rich in the Gospel.
  • Better for you to invest in others than to invest in yourself.
  • Better for you to “seek the Kingdom first” rather than comfort.
  • Better to be rich in righteousness than rich in cultural acceptance.

Deep down, the minimalists have caught wind of this. They know there’s happiness in contentment. But, only God’s righteousness in our lives can truly solve our deepest needs.

4. God Oversees the Journey

I’ll keep this last point short: God “directs” your steps.

This is a hard truth for me. I’ve over-worried this year so much. And I’ve found when I do worry, it often overshadows my growing trust in the One who is infinitely good.

The Good King oversees your journey too, and He knows what’s ultimately good for you.

Knowing Him more is the sweetest, ongoing journey you can take in 2021.

Into the New Year…

As you make New Year plans in your heart, place them in the hands of the Good King who loves you deeply.

I’d like to explore in 2021 what the Bible really says about success: What does success look like in the eyes of God? Are we overcomplicating the Christian life? What should we focus on?

I’ve found there is much relief to be found in the Bible.

Reply, and let me know if this topic would interest you. As well, are there any other topics you’d love to explore in 2021? Let me know!

? More to Savor

The work week is hard enough. Devotional time in the Word is strained. And, the Bible can be a hard book to read.

The Scripture Sauce newsletter and community is here for you.

? Here's what you get for joining...

  • Free weekly devotionals, saturated in the Bible
  • Access to all posts at
  • Bonus content like short eBooks and member-only updates

⛔ What you'll never get: Spam, ads, compromising cookies that track you, or weird theology (hopefully....we try our best).

Don't miss your dab of weekly Scripture encouragement!

Spread the word

Keep reading