At the beginning of a new year, we start off with good intentions to change, however, after a few days we return to old habits. These resolutions are unsuccessful.
Let’s look at resolve from a biblical perspective to see if it moves beyond good intentions to something more lasting.
There once was a young man who lived in the country known as Judah, which was the Southern Kingdom of Israel. Due to the country’s unfaithfulness to follow the Lord, He allowed Judah to be taken captive by the Babylonians. The Israelites were taught to seek the Lord with all their hearts.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6).
But Israel as a nation failed to follow the Lord’s ways, so now they were taken captive. Some were removed from their home land and transplanted in Babylon as prophesied by Jeremiah.
The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar sought out some of the young men from Judah who were good-looking, smart, and could learn quickly so he could teach them their language and literature so they could serve in the king’s palace. Among these smart, good-looking men was Daniel and his three friends.
The king instructed that these young men were to be fed the king’s delicacies and wine that he drank during their three-year training period. These captives were afforded a rare opportunity to live, learn, eat, and drink like royalty. Not a bad deal if you must live in captivity, right?
Not only that, the king changed the names to Babylonian names. Thus, began the process of transforming Israelites into Babylonians. They were to assimilate into this pagan culture by having new names, learning their customs, eating and drinking like their captors do. They were to have a new identity.
Even in a country that turns from God, there are always those a few who still seek after the heart of God. Daniel and his friends were those who still desired the ways of the Lord, despite their captivity.
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself” (Daniel 1:8 ESV).
Do you wonder why Daniel would make such a resolve?
Yes, the Lord laid out the dietary laws in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Daniel and his friends were raised to observe these laws according to the Word of God. But this is more than just following laws. Though Daniel lived in Babylonian kingdom, he was not part of that kingdom.
Daniel’s resolve not to defile himself with the king’s foods is about his relationship with the Lord.
He loved God with all his heart, therefore, the commandments of God were written upon his heart. (See Deut 6:5-6)
When we love the Lord more than the ways of the world, His laws are on our heart.
This is not about following rituals or rules. When we resolve to keep a checklist of do’s and don’ts eventually we’ll grow weary and fail.
However, if we resolve to maintain a relationship with the Lord, through our Savior Jesus Christ, when all the world’s luscious temptations are placed before us, we have the Lord’s strength empowering us.
For a successful resolution, resolve to maintain a relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ.
Scriptures for Meditation:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5-6)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17)
Lord, I thank You for Your love for me. And because You first loved me, I love You. Lord, this year I resolve to put my relationship with You through Jesus Christ first in my life. I desire to love You with all my heart, all my soul, and all my might. I pray that You place Your words on my heart with a strong desire to follow Your ways. Lord, I ask for the Helper, the Spirit of truth to dwell with me and guide me. In Jesus name, Amen.