“O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness…Keep this forever in the intent of the thoughts of the heart of Your people, and fix their heart toward You.” 1 Chronicles 29:16-18

New Year’s resolutions are ephemeral things. While there are some among us who are capable of being spartan in our resolve, most of us think happy thoughts and give our “new me for the new year” the “old college try.” We are pretty good for the first, oh, say three weeks, but the “real me” often prevails. It is not that it is a bad thing to be a better parent, a better spouse, lose those pounds from last winter, take better care of ourselves, quit a bad habit, forsake a favored sin, grow in our faith through prayer and Bible study, take better control of our temper, put family above work, give up desserts for the year, or what-have-you.

It is just that most of us are pretty irresolute when it comes to our resolutions! A resolution is essentially a decision as to future action, a formal statement of determination, a resolve based on analysis and a decision drawn therefrom. For every believer, resolutions occupy sacred ground in the heart. We all know we are born sinners and, though the “old man” was crucified on the cross, he still whispers his vile accusations and gilded temptations directly into the ear of the soul. Truth be told, believers ought to be formulating resolutions of godliness all year long.

King David’s great prayer found in 1 Chronicles 9 is part of his fatherly charge to his son Solomon and all Israel to build the temple of Jehovah. It had been a desire of his own heart to build it but God told him it would be the work of his son. So the people donated and prepared for the great work. They provided “in abundance” but never lost sight of the fact that all they had was God’s to begin with, all had come from His hand. How can you go wrong when you build your resolution upon thanksgiving and upon God’s rightful claim upon you? After all, if you are born again then you know He has bought you out of the slave-market of sin and made you one of His sons (1 Timothy 2:6).

Interestingly, David seems to reflect back on his own calling he received from God (1 Samuel 16:7) with his next words, “God tests the heart” and has pleasure in uprightness. God is always presented as the weigher of resolve (Proverbs 16:1–3, Hebrews 4:12). God’s words to another king found in 2 Chronicles 16:9 are a warning and an encouragement to us all: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly.” Loyalty in the Christian life is so important that there is no room for playing the fool.

David’s joy at the past resolve of the people was not so great that he could not see the danger of growing cold in obedience to God. His prayer continues in verse 18 with his request that God move upon the people in order to keep their resolve both in intent and thoughts of heart. He prays, “fix their heart to You.” Various translations use the phrase “prepare their heart,” or “direct their heart” to You. The idea was that their thoughts be drawn to the Lord so that their works establish and confirm the resolution and carry out His service. Without God’s grace, the best of a believer’s resolutions toward real, eternal significance will languish and dissolve away.

There were only four of all the kings of Israel and Judah that tried to be godly. God describes their effort of obedience with the terms “fixing,” “preparing,” or “setting” himself to serve the Lord. One such passage is found in 2 Chronicles 27:6: “So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God.” The general idea being communicated is that King Jotham developed moral habits and was resolute in them.

Did God give you any guidelines for formulating moral resolutions that have eternal benefits? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Here are several resolution “starters” worthy of your consideration:

  • Gain assurance of your salvation (Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”).
  • Live your Christian life to win (1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”).
  • Love the Lord with everything you have (Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”).
  • Trust God completely (Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;”).
  • Be quick to repent (Joel 2:12f, “Turn to Me with all your heart…Return to the LORD your God…”).

For every resolve, whether praying more (Jeremiah 29:13), studying the Bible more (2 Timothy 2:15), fearing the Lord more (Psalm 86:11), being devoted to God more (Psalm 9:1, 119:10, 69, 145), or obeying God’s will more (Ephesians 6:6f), there is a verse to steel your resolve! Prayerfully consider your resolutions. Trust and obey.