We are three days into 2010. Many have set high goals for the year and are already at work achieving those goals. The beginning of the year is a time to focus on improvements and ways to enhance our lives. I guess that health related goals probably top the list followed by financial goals. Among Christians, spiritual goals may be most common.
The New Year represented an important time in the Bible. For Noah and his family, the New Year brought an end to the flooded earth (Genesis 8:13). After years of preparation and weeks inside the ark, Noah and his family were ready to start over. Everything they had previously known was gone. The judgment of God was fresh on their minds as they prepared to start again.
For God’s people in Egypt, the beginning of the year was a time of anticipation. They were told to prepare to leave their bonds behind them and be ready to leave Egypt quickly (Exodus 12:2). Today, Jews still celebrate the Passover although today they celebrate the Jewish New Year around the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:24ff). But the beginning of their calendar is marked by the month they left captivity for God’s freedom.
We have no such holy day to mark the beginning of our years. But we can still use the secular New Year as a milestone for spiritual reflection and consideration. Here are some suggestions.
Examine Yourself. We are told to look inward and consider our own selves in Scripture. Job spoke of the affliction that was within him (Job 30:27). The Psalmist spoke of God’s pleasure in the man who truthfully looked within himself (Psalm 51:6). In the New Testament Paul spoke of a person who is truly God’s child because of what he is on the inside, not because of earthly heritage (Romans 2:29). Paul told Christians that they should examine and test themselves to see whether they were “in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Act On What You Find. It accomplishes nothing to look at yourself, find deficiencies and then do nothing about them. James finds no use in the man who only hears but never changes. He says of such a man, “For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:24). Self examination is vital, but action is also required to correct shortcomings.
When You Fall, Get Up Again. Notice I did not say if you fall. You will certainly stumble in your Christian journey. A man hiking a woodland trail expects to stumble sometimes. But he always recovers and continues hiking. Spiritually, God knows that we will make missteps. Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Or 1 John 1:10, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar…” The real question is not whether we will sin, but what will we do about it when we fall. Judas was so stricken with his own sinfulness he killed himself (Matthew 27:3ff) but Peter, who denied Christ, became a powerful voice within the early church. When you stumble, do not lie on your face in surrender but stand up again and continue your journey.
The New Year brings time for fresh renewal. Take advantage of it.