How do you react to the beginning of a new year? With hope? Anticipation? Great expectations? Many people make New Year's resolutions with full intent to keep them. Others have given up on that sort of thing. Me, I never really did much resolution making, at least, not that I remember.
Many people are familiar with the expression, "The paths of hell are paved with many good intentions." Resolutions and commitments are different. How are they different? Resolutions are intended commitments. Resolutions are what I intend to do. What I plan or hope to do. A commitment is what I promise to do—I give my word on it.
One is a plan, the other a promise. One is an indication, the other a pledge. One involves words, even an opinion, while the other connects words to action. I want to do, or I will do. Both involve risk of failure and require follow through. Both require discipline to carry out, but one is more binding than the other.
As a pastor, each new year I would give a message with a challenge. The take away was a challenge to commit to something for the new year. Each message related to what I saw as a general need within the lives of people in the church, or the life of the church itself. It was my commitment message. I called commitment the "C" word, as if it was an undesirable word.
One of my recurring challenges was to read God's Word (the Bible) daily. One year I challenged people to read just one verse of the Bible every day and think on it through the day. Sounds simple enough, but intentions are different than commitments. Many people would say, "Pastor I want to do that, thanks for the challenge." But later, as I followed up on it, I found that most people didn't follow through with it.
It reminds me of the short parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-32). Their father asked each of them to go and work in the vineyard. The first said, yes, that he would go, but didn't. The second said he would not, but later repented and went. Jesus then asked, "Which of the two did the father's will?" Of course, the Jewish leaders walked right into self-judgement when they said the second son. In other words, it's not what you say, it's what you do.
Not long ago, while in a group of young men gathered for Bible study, someone asked, "Has anyone ever read through the whole Bible?" Back in the 70's, among young believers I knew, a more likely question was, "Has anyone not read through the whole Bible?" More than ever, a challenge to read through the Bible needs to be made and accepted.
Have you ever read through the Bible? Do you read the Bible on a regular basis? It requires discipline and commitment, but it pays great dividends. And it helps to have a plan.
A myriad of Bible reading plans exist. Some simple and kind of boring. Others are more diverse. And some are a bit complex. One place to find a plethora of reading plans is the site (and mobile App), YouVersion [www.youversion.com/reading-plans].
This year I'm trying a new plan recommended by a friend. It's called Bible Eater [http://tw.gs/5zSea]. It has some flexibility and is thorough.
Whatever your experience, whatever your level of faith, I hope you'll consider a challenge to commit to read through the Bible. Choose a plan and go for it. And don't worry about failing. The biggest failing would be to not try at all. You would miss the blessing of God speaking His truth into your life.