Happy new year! I hope your Christmas and New Year celebrations were deep and rich.
When it comes to the new year, there seem to be two kinds of people: folks who make resolutions, and folks who don’t. Fitness facilities everywhere rely on the former, at least for the first few weeks of the year!
It’s one thing to make a resolution, but it’s another thing to create a habit. This is why I prefer to consider a rule of life rather than resolutions.
What do I mean by a rule of life?
In one sense, you can think of a rule of life as a series of new year’s resolutions that you actually keep, that are integrated into your lifestyle. A rule of life is a plan that you set out for yourself, prayerfully, that you can achieve, that will enhance your life and your walk with God.
It can involve things you will undertake daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. So, for example, you might want to make reading the Bible and praying for half an hour, and going for a 2 kilometre walk while listening to an edifying podcast, part of your rule for each day. A regular day of rest and a date with your spouse or significant other could be part of your weekly rule. Monthly, you could vow to read a solid work of theology and take a long hike (though perhaps not at the same time!). Yearly, you could set out to make a retreat, guided or alone, to build your relationship with the Lord, and ensure you take at least two weeks of vacation.
These are just examples, but if you set your mind to them, and seek the grace of God to fulfill them, these are achievable goals. And if, for example, you miss a day in your Bible reading and prayer, instead of abandoning the idea altogether, you get up and carry on the next day, because you know it’s the right thing to do.
A rule of life can also be shared with fellow Christians who are close to you, as they can help you evaluate the achievability and appropriateness of your chosen rule.
And the good news is that it’s never too late to create a rule of life. We may be a few days into the new year, but you can start prayerfully discerning your rule of life today!
Here’s more good news: when you keep a rule of life that strengthens your walk with God, you’re not the only beneficiary: your small group is enriched, your church is enriched, and the Kingdom of God is enriched, because you are growing as a disciple of Jesus.
Give it a try!
To encourage you, here’s a rule of life that the apostle Paul gave to the church in Rome (even though he didn’t call it that):
“Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home.
Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people. Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, and do your best to live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12.9-18, CEV).