A huge percentage of Americans do not make New Year’s resolutions. They need to take a look at this one. It’s different from any they have seen and can be difference-making.

Many who make New Year’s resolutions do not sustain them. By January's end, they have returned to their old ways.

Health clubs are an obvious example. Annually, they have a big increase in memberships in January, but many new members stop coming even though they may have paid for a longer membership.

It’s easy to start a new exercise program but hard to keep on keeping on. So, by the end of January, the exercise is being neglected.

It’s easy to start a new diet but hard to make it a life-long change in eating habits. So, by the end of January, the diet is over and the old eating habits have returned.

It’s easy to start a new budget or more conservative spending plan in January but hard to discipline yourself to stick with it.

Quit after January. Back to the old ways. Repeat yearly.

How about a New Year’s resolution that can be completed in January, but its benefits last all year — or maybe last for a lifetime? It is designed so you quit by January 31 but benefit all year. Sound too good to be true?

The month of January has 31 days.

The Biblical book of Proverbs has 31 chapters.

Can you see already where I am going with this?

Proverbs is called “the book of wisdom.” It contains and explains dozens, maybe hundreds, of common sense guidelines for more Godly living. It’s a how-to book for everyday life.

My New Year’s resolution is this:

“I will read one chapter of the book of Proverbs each day in January.”

That’s it. I cannot imagine a simpler, clearer New Year’s resolution. Only one thing to do. No complications. No moving parts.

This is the world’s shortest New Year’s resolution.

It is very doable. There’s no question about whether or not you are able to do this.

It’s free. Nothing to buy or join with this resolution. It’s a using of a resource that has always been available to you. It’s about time you did this. The January “new beginning” is an appropriate time to start – and finish – your life-enhancing one-month experience with Proverbs. At the end of January, you have reached the end of Proverbs.

This is a New Year’s resolution that is designed for you to quit by the end of January. And yet the wisdom of Proverbs will go with you after you have finished.

“Thy word have I hid in my heart …”

“I have stored your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” – Psalm 119:11.

What a potent verse. What a powerful picture of how God desires his word to penetrate and saturate the depths of our hearts in such a way that it's stored there. I've stored your word in my heart.

What a blessing for you – and for those you interact with. Your spouse. Your family. Your friends. Your co-workers. Your customers. Your neighbors. Service personnel you interact with. Even your enemies.

Getting along with a difficult person.

Better relations with your parents.

Husband and wife relations.

Strong work ethic.

Avoiding unnecessary and unhelpful confrontations.

Avoiding and handling anger. 

Here are some things you can consider doing now to make your January month with Proverbs even more meaningful:

  • Decide now when and where you will do your daily Proverbial reading (I just made up that term. Sounds serious, doesn’t it?) Having a set time and place for your reading can have benefits. First thing in the morning? Right after breakfast? At home after work? Right before bed?

    When you open your Bible to Proverbs, you will enter your sanctuary. Best to have no interruptions, but sometimes it cannot be helped.

  • ­­Will you tell someone else about this resolution and see if they want to do it, too? They could become your accountability partner.

  • Put this daily “appointment with yourself” on your calendar, in your planner, on your smartphone or on your computer. It is a scheduled activity for each day in January.

  • Share this resolution with others. At work. Your Sunday School class. Your family. Your friends. Show them this article. By sharing, you are becoming committed to the wisdom of this project.

What if you miss some days and get behind? Or you were later into the month in getting started? This likelihood has two easy fixes:

One, you can obviously double up and read two chapters a day until caught up.

Or, two, you can continue after January 31. There is no magic to the January 31 finish date. Maybe set a revised goal to finish by one of those February religious holidays: Ground Hog Day, February 2; or Valentine’s Day, February 14. Or, if you are on the Gulf Coast, by Mardi Gras Day, February 21.

What if you need a refresher course from time to time? This WILL happen. You will need to read Proverbs again. While you can turn to Proverbs at any time, another month of organized immersive reading of the whole book can bear abundant fruit. You can do that any month.

All months of the year have 31 days except September, April, June and November. (Where did I get that order?) And of course, February with 28 or 29 days. In those months lacking 31 days, you just need to read two chapters in one day, plus for two to three days in February. Any month works for your refresher course.

Or you can do this same New Year’s resolution again next year – and any year. I foresee some folks making Proverbs their New Year’s resolution each January. What a wonderful tradition.

I got this resolution idea while studying Proverbs in my Sunday School class, The Good Samaritans, at Kingswood Church in Mobile, Alabama. I noticed the 31 chapters of Proverbs and the 31 days of January. The idea clicked.

Now, let’s get you started. Repeat this aloud now:

“I will read one chapter of the book of Proverbs each day in January.”

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.