And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places. 

(1 Kings 3:3, NKJV)

New Year’s is traditionally a time of introspection, reflecting on how one can improve himself in the coming year. Many people make new year’s resolutions, a firm commitment to do something — or even fulfill a whole list of things — that will make them better people in the future. Yet we all know that those resolutions rarely come to fruition. We might start out strong, zealously exercising or dieting or studying the Bible or not kicking the dog, but that zeal gradually peters out and old habits resume their control.

I personally don’t make new year’s resolutions, but not because I know they won’t be fulfilled. After all, a short burst of zeal is better than none at all. I don’t make new year’s resolutions simply because I’m complacent. I lack the zeal in the first place to even attempt to change.

So this year I’ve made a resolution: to stop being complacent. It occurs to me that this is probably the most ambitious resolution one could make, because it goes to the very core of human nature. But if I don’t root out the sin of complacency, no other good intentions can hope to flourish in my life.

It’s somewhat like a gardener planting a beautiful array of flowers or vegetables, without first preparing the soil. There’s a weed in my garden, the weed of laziness and self-satisfaction, and it’s a very greedy weed. It will choke the life out of anything else I try to plant — and it needs to be completely removed, lest “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22, ESV).

Solomon provides an example of this danger. He was “wiser than all men,” and his wisdom “excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:30-31, NKJV), yet he ended his life with a divided heart, and his decisions led to a divided kingdom and gradual downfall of the nation of Israel. He began his reign by asking God for wisdom, acknowledging that he could not become a godly king through his own strength, and God rewarded him abundantly.

But notice this penetrating insight into Solomon’s early days: “And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places” (1 Kings 3:3, NKJV). Solomon started his new reign with a powerful resolution, to love God and walk in His statutes — but he failed to weed his garden first. He had a bad habit that needed to be removed from his life before the good habits could take root, and that bad habit eventually destroyed all the good he accomplished.

May the Lord bring to my attention all the areas of complacency in my life in the coming year, and may I be zealous to root them out.

 

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