New Year’s Day–it is supposed to be a time of new beginnings. It is marked by celebrations, parties, football, and resolutions–and for some, hangovers. Culturally, compared to Christmas, New Year’s Day is also less stressful. One does not hear declarations of “Keep Christ in the New Year” bandied about on talk shows. No one speaks of New Year’s Day as a religious holiday. However, for most people New Year’s Day is a deeply religious holiday. It is the holiday of self-worship. It is a day when people believe that if they make specific resolutions and determine to turn over a new leaf, they can change the things about themselves that they don’t like. It is a day on which people believe (or perhaps just hope) that they can change by simply wanting to. But like all other false religions, the worship of self and self-will results in disappointment. In reality, New Year’s Day is a day like any other–it is a day to serve God or to serve self.
The directive in Deuteronomy 6 to impress the things of God upon your children applies especially to New Year’s Day. Man cannot change for the better apart from God. In fact, man cannot even know what is the good that he must seek without wisdom from God. The message of the gospel is simply this: without Christ I am lost. Without Christ I don’t even know what good is. The trouble with attempting change in your own strength is that your own strength can never bring real change. You will still be yourself, merely frustrated by trying to be different than you are.
Thankfully, change is possible, and it starts with the mercy of God. Christians don’t have to wait for January 1 to know the mercies of God in a new way. The goal of the Christian is not simply to try harder to be good. No, the goal of the Christian is be like Jesus Christ. And what is most amazing about that goal is that it is not we who make the resolution, it is God himself who has chosen to conform us to the image of Christ! That is why we can have hope when the world knows disappointment. Because of God’s faithfulness his mercies are new everyday.
Read again the precious truth of Lamentations 3:21-24:
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
Every morning you can wake up knowing that God’s mercies are new and fresh; every day you can be thankful that his mercy is not based upon how well you did yesterday. The mercies of God are based upon his covenant faithfulness. So there is hope. We are not consumed by the evil of this world; we are not defeated by our own flesh. Every morning, God’s faithfulness is available in great abundance, for he is our portion. Every morning is a new year, a new opportunity to know the wonderful faithfulness of God found in his word. Talk about this with your children. They need to know that every day is a new day to walk with God and learn of his great compassion. Every day is a new opportunity to know the wonder of the gospel.