Monday, 31 December 2012

New Day's Resolution

Well here we are once again on the eve of yet another New Year. What will 2013 bring? If one ponders that question too much, the whole New Year takes on somewhat of a mysterious (and maybe scary) nature. Will it be a year filled with happiness or sadness? Will this be the year that I get that big promotion and raise that I’ve been yearning for, or the year I join the ranks of the unemployed? Will this be the year that we move from being renters to homeowners, or the year that the bank adds our home to their collection of already foreclosed homes, and thus forcing us to become renters once again? Will this be the year we celebrate the birth of a new family member, or mourn the death of yet another one?

There is so much uncertainty to a New Year. In some ways it’s not unlike the flip of a coin or the drawing of straws; someone always ends up on the short end of the stick. We all hope for the best, and most of us resolve to do our best, but you just never know how it will all turn out. Maybe there really is something to that old adage, “One day at a time.”

Then there is this little thing called a “New Year’s Resolution.” Essentially it speaks to our desires to make a fresh start of something, just as a New Year is also a fresh start of the calendar. While some of us go about planning our New Year’s resolutions, others of us joke about it, much like the person who said, “My New Year’s resolution is to make no New Year’s resolutions.”

Personally I typically do not make New Year’s resolutions either, but if I did they might include a resolve to further reduce my waist size and poundage that goes with it. Perhaps another resolve would be to be a little more careful with what kind of online discussions (arguments) I allow myself to venture into. After all, is there really anything to be gained by me also weighing into such current political hot-potato discussions as gun control or gay marriage? Though sometimes I’m tempted, it’s probably best that I not do so.

Maybe I might even make a resolution to spend more time on some of the spiritual disciplines, as in Richard Foster’s excellent book, Celebration of Discipline. Now there’s a worthwhile resolution, at least in my opinion it is. Having said that, I think I will resolve to at least re-read that book again sometime soon. Certainly there is no end to resolution possibilities that we could make if we were so inclined to. But then, as with Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and other special days, I’ve also long since wrestled with thoughts such as this:
“One man considers one day more special than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5).
For many years now, I have not really been one who has much to do with any special days. While some people focus on celebrating many of the big days on our calendar (and that’s OK; to each their own), I have long since viewed one day pretty much the same as the next. If I celebrate a day, I only really do so because it is important to another loved one. If it were only up to me, I don’t think I would acknowledge special days at all. In my way of thinking, each and every day are days that the Lord hath made, and I will strive to rejoice and be glad in them all equally.
So where do we go from here?
I prefer to go to a “New Day’s Resolution.” I prefer to, regardless what day of the year it is, resolve to start my day with this prayer on my lips: “Lord, make me a blessing to someone today.” Let’s think about that for a moment. Right since the dawn of time, humanity has played with Cain’s question to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). From that point on the Bible has painted a picture of the brotherhood of mankind. Yes, historically we have all sinned and fallen horribly short of God’s ideal (Romans 3:23), but there yet remains hope. Thankfully too, in Christ Jesus we are already made clean and acceptable, but I think it is also possible to take God’s grace for granted and become spiritually lethargic, as evidenced by many of our interactions with one another.

My “New Day’s Resolution” is that I do not want to simply argue and debate theological doctrines and concepts all the time; I want to focus more on blessing someone else, regardless if we agree doctrinally or not. It’s easy to be opinionated and grace-less as we adamantly put forth our theological views (I know, I’ve done it), but less easy to be our brother’s keeper and full of grace.
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way … Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification … So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” (Romans 14: 13,19,22; NIV).
Just as “God is love” (1 John 4:16), so too I am convinced that theology is important ONLY in as much as it is based on love and relationships. As someone once said, “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.” Are we our brother’s keeper? Absolutely. That is far too important to focus on only once per year, as part of some sort of special day on the calendar, rather it ought to be a daily resolution. My daily prayer, “Lord, make me a blessing to someone today,” speaks to the importance of being our brother’s keeper. It really is a spiritual discipline, for it does not come naturally for any of us and it is easy to fall away from in an unguarded moment.

My “New Day’s Resolution” for every day is based on those verses from Romans 14. No, I don’t live it perfectly, not by a long shot. Some days it seems like for every one step forward, I take three steps backwards. Some days I feel like I’m only 2% successful, but I press on anyways (Philippians 3: 12-14).

A new year is an exciting thing, full of promise and hope. A new day can be just as exciting. Happy New Day. What are you going to do with it? Squander it in some sort of self-seeking activity, or use it to bless someone else? Think about this: You might just be God’s answer to someone else’s prayer today. Peace.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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