As I’ve shared in the past, the practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. Yet nowhere will you find the word “resolution” in the Bible. By contrast, we do find the very different word — “resolved” — some 29 times in Scripture. For purposes of this study, we’re going to focus on two of these passages that will drive home this concept. And both have powerful application to our service in law enforcement and for us as Christians in general:
Daniel 1:8 (added emphasis) — “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself…” (but read Daniel 1 in context).
1 Corinthians 2:2 (added emphasis) — For while I was with you, I resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Again, we’re NOT talking about a typical/almost sure-to-fail New Year’s “resolution” here. On the contrary, the Hebrew word for resolved has a very different meaning: to be steadfast; unwavering; having a fixed purpose…
So how is being RESOLVED different (biblically speaking) from a resolution? Reference the latter, a 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail. Other studies have showed even higher failure numbers.
My own experience involves both my training as a weightlifter (strength training, gym rat) AND for our service in law enforcement.
On the former, I’ve been resolutely (resolved) throwing iron around in the gym now for nearly 50 of my 65 years. Sadly, each year I must suffer the hordes of “resolutioners” who pack the gym in January (and mostly just texting or otherwise playing on their phones) only to be largely gone by March. In short, these resolution-makers were not resolved.
And in our law enforcement world, I RESOLVED to make it through the academy and to continue to train resolutely in my police skills (martial arts, arrest control, firearms, etc.). These things kept me alive for nearly 4 decades now when more than a few have tried to “shorten” or end my service. I RESOLVED to get through the academy. My oath made with made with a RESOLUTE heart and never a resolution (and it has no expiration date). And I RESOLVED to stay the course when some tried to end my career in other ways.
Even in matters of the Christian faith, there are the great many who make resolution-esque “confession of faith” or “repeat a prayer” as part of an emotional response but then soon fall away in the absence of genuine repentance and a resolved, life-saving/life-CHANGING faith in Christ alone (Mark 1:15, John 3:1-21, 14:6).
And speaking of our Savior, it is critical that you understand His RESOLVE to suffer and die a horrific death on the cross out of love for us. That is in fact the kind of Holy Spirit-powered RESOLVE we need to have in living, loving, and serving Him.
Accordingly, and for the purposes of this study, let’s take a quick look at the RESOLVED lives of Daniel and Paul:
Following his first invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem in 606 B. C., Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar took hostage dozens of gifted Jewish youths for “re-education” to help ensure the success of his long-range plans for world dominance (not unlike how the Soviets would indoctrinate and train gifted athletes, scientists, etc.). Daniel was one of these captured youths, but unlike most of his fellow captives, Daniel would go on to become synonymous with uncompromising, RESOLUTE integrity, faith and obedience to God and His standards.
Now understand, it wasn’t captivity and hardship that tested Daniel’s integrity, it was privilege. When the king ordered his chief official, Ashpenaz, to choose from among the Israelites, he sought youths with certain qualities. They were to be without defect, good looking, “showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge,” with the ability to serve in the king’s court (Daniel 1:4). They were to receive privileged instruction and training for privileged positions in the King’s service.
The king ordered Ashpenaz “to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans” including mathematics, astronomy, natural history, agriculture, and architecture. They were to eat the king’s food and drink the king’s wine, and after three years (think “academy” here), they were to have a guaranteed position in the king’s personal service.
Now you say, “Privilege, education, good food and drink, one of the most sought-after jobs in the kingdom…who could have a problem with that?” Praise God, Daniel did!
Daniel didn’t argue with the education, training “academy”, and future in the king’s court. He didn’t even balk when Ashpenaz re-named him Belteshazzar, after a Chaldean god. But Daniel drew the line where God did in Scripture — he wouldn’t eat the king’s rich food or drink.
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8, added emphasis). Why? Because the enticing food and choice wines—perks of the king’s service—had been ritually dedicated to Babylon’s false gods. What’s more, eating food prepared to Babylonian standards was likely to put the young exiles in violation of God’s laws concerning unclean foods (Leviticus 7:23-27; Leviticus 11).
Daniel wanted no participation in any pagan, unclean feast or lifestyle. That would be a form of idolatry that would provoke the wrath of a righteous and holy God (Exodus 20:4-5). His decision, though immediately dealing with food and wine, was ultimately a resolute decision about Who he worshipped and served.
Daniel’s decision constitutes a basic part of genuine, integrity and an uncompromising, resolved life of service and sacrifice (concepts that are central to our law enforcement calling). And today God is still calling His faithful to be resolved in drawing lines where He draws them in Scripture. If the truth of God’s Word opposes the world’s “wisdom” on a certain issue, we must uncompromisingly RESOLVE to stand firm on God’s Word under the power of the Holy Spirit that indwells every true Christian believer (something that Daniel and other Old Testament believers did not have, although they most certainly acted under the leading and covering of the Holy Spirit).
Let’s briefly look at the rest of verse 8: Daniel, having RESOLVED to stand fast in obedience, responded with uncompromising courage and boldness: “He sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.” He was respectful, but steadfast (resolute, RESOLVED) in his obedience and faith in God.
When Daniel sought permission to go on a water and vegetable diet, he demonstrated unwavering, resolute faith and trust in God. He said, “Please test your servants for ten days…then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see” (Daniel 1:12-13). Daniel did what was right, and trusted God for the results, no matter what. In this case, God caused Daniel to look healthier than all the other youths (Daniel 1:15).
This training would pay off years later when Daniel famously resolved to stand fast in faith when he was thrown into a den of lions for refusing to worship a human king instead of only God (see Daniel 6).
And Paul? God powerfully used this formerly infamous murderer of Christians to preach, teach and transcribe a huge portion of the New Testament before he was martyred (executed). Paul, like Daniel before him, was RESOLVED to “finish the race” God had set before him. While I could cite many other passages, 2 Timothy 4:7-8 give us powerful incite in Paul’s Holy Spirit-powered resolve: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.”
In closing, what else did both Daniel and Paul do in order to have this kind of resolve? They surrendered in faith to God and then prayed and spent time in His Word (in Daniel’s case, he clearly committed Scripture to memory inasmuch as the Hebrew texts were unlikely to have been available to him during his “academy” training) — something EVERY Christian should be doing. Their legacies continue today, as do those of all the martyrs who stood resolved in their faith in the face of horrific torture and death.
Finally, the application for us in law enforcement today is how God can use resolved, faithful, and obedient Christian servant-warriors to change the face of our profession (and those we serve and protect through it) and our sin-sick world in these tenuous last days before our Lord returns for His faithful. God can use resolved, faithful, and obedient Christian servant-warriors to change the face of our profession Click To Tweet
In 2024, let’s be RESOLVED in Christ (and not a destined-to-fail resolution) to follow the examples of Daniel, Paul and our Savior (Jesus was 100% resolved to fulfill His ministry and go to the cross on our behalf — see Luke 9:51, for example) to live out our faith and our law enforcement calling with fearless, resolute integrity. God knows we are going to be tested in the coming year and beyond.