Another New Year is upon us. For many of us there have been too many and they come too quickly. As Christians we understand the idea of new beginnings. In salvation God has given us new life and new hope. We know that we don't have to wait for New Year for a second chance to get things right. God's grace is available to us as long as we have breath in our lungs.
However, celebrating the New Year can help us to refocus our efforts, redirect our thoughts, and remedy lingering weaknesses in our lives so that we might live more holy lives. To that end, we make New Year's resolutions.
Many of my spiritual heroes made resolutions of their own.
Jonathan Edwards, the great Puritan preacher, kept a diary. In that diary he wrote 70 resolutions, things that he resolved to do. Many of us would do well to emulate his resolve.
"Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory and to my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now or never so many myriads of ages hence."
Another Puritan, Matthew Henry, had great resolve, as well.
"I do in the beginning of this New Year solemnly make a fresh surrender of myself, my whole self, body, soul, and spirit, to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, my Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, covenanting and promising, not in any strength of my own, for I am very weak, but in the strength of the grace of Jesus Christ, that I will endeavour this year to stand complete in the Will of God."
What resolutions are you going to make this year? Lose weight? Find time? Break habits? Mend fences?
I would like to suggest a few things that we all should be resolved to do in the New Year:
1. Praise God for every new day (Psalms 118:24)
2. Read through the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16)
3. Pray daily for one another and the church (1 Thessalonians 1:17)
4. Share your faith with at least one new person each week (Romans 10:14)
May Matthew Henry's New Year's prayer be ours:
"Lord grant that this year I may be more holy, and walk more closely than ever in all holy conversation; I earnestly desire to be filled with thy holy thoughts, to be carried out in holy affections, determined by holy aims and intentions, and governed in all my words and actions by holy principles. O that a golden thread of holiness may run through the whole web of this year."
Peter Beck (Ph.D. Southern Seminary) is assistant professor of religion at charleston southern university in Charleston, South Carolina and a former Senior Pastor.