Thoughts on the New Year
Everyone knows that we have just passed the first day of a new year—the year of 2016. All of the sorrows and joys, the defeats and achievements, the disappointments and accomplishments of the past are gone. But now we have the opportunity to commit ourselves to the future with renewed determination and holy zeal. Are you ready?
Whoever you may be, nearly all of us make commitments to learn, to grow, to do more each year. Of course, we may make such decisions during the year but many people have an interest in using a brand new year to recommit themselves to new decisions, moral change and spiritual growth. If this describes you, consider further along with me.
Paul calls on his readers to “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). This implies growth. He goes on to say, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (v. 2). This also suggests growth—a spiritual and mental one. To the Colossians, Paul writes, “Keep seeking the things above,” and, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (3:1-2). To do this surely will require great change on the part of the Romans and Colossians—and us as well.
One of the most direct passages that speak of dramatic change in our life is taken from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. The apostle says, “In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” (Ephesians 4:22). This is the old that must be changed and cast aside. But he then goes on to say, “. . . and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (vv. 23-24). The old is to be put aside and the new is to be put on. If you belong to Christ, this applies to you. It applies to me. We are to be conformed to the likeness of God!
In the same book, Paul says that we are to lay aside lying and speak truth (Ephesians 4:25). We are to turn away from sinful anger and live without this sin (vv. 26-27). We are to turn away from stealing and learn to give instead (v. 28). We are to turn from sinful and unwholesome speech and only speak what is good, edifying, and graceful (v. 29). We must turn away from bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice; instead, we are to have kindness, tender-heartedness, and forgiveness (vv. 31-32). Are we making these kinds of changes in our life? Now is a good time to do this!
This is not all that the apostle wrote. He says that we are to be like God by imitating Him (Ephesians 5:1-2). We are to turn from immorality of all kinds and live pure lives (vv. 3-7). We must turn from darkness and live in the light (vv. 8-13). We are to be wise and not foolish (vv. 15-17). We must turn from drunkenness and be filled with the Spirit and godly singing (v. 18). In a very practical way, we are to be the kind of husband and wife God wants us to be, and this is to be manifested in how we live in the marital relationship (vv. 22-33). We must be the kind the children and parents we should be (6:1-4), as well as the kind of slave or master we should be (v. 5-9).
Our life in Christ is not one that merely has an external dimension but we are to be transformed inwardly, and this will then be expressed outwardly—in our words, relationships, attitudes, and actions. As we come to a new year, we have the blessed privilege of seeking radical change. Of course, this happens initially when we come to Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord, but there is always a place for change throughout out life.
Try to spend a little time—whether a half hour or several hours—and go over your life before God. If you have never come to Christ and are still in your sin (John 8:24; Ephesians 2:1-3), now is the time to seek the Lord and His change in Christ (Romans 6:1-11). If you have genuinely turned to Christ in the past but still find a great need of further change, be willing to seek God’s face and will, and thereby determine that you will live differently henceforth, just as God would want you to do. If you remain in sin and refuse to repent (cf. Hebrews 10:26-31), you cannot be saved. But if you do have a sensitive heart and conscience, God will help you to change your mind and behavior to reflect His own will. Don’t allow another day to pass you by as you seek to learn Godly behavior in the Scriptures and then determine to live differently with the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13).
What a shame it is to continue day after day and year after year, without a definite and dramatic change in our life. This doesn’t please the Lord and we think that it doesn’t really please you either. You are made for something greater and higher than the compromising ways of the fallen world. Let 2016 change all of this for you. Make a decision today to live differently this year. If you will, be assured that you will have God’s help in this holy commitment!