Each year around this time many of us are prone to contemplate the past year with its ups and downs, and then look to the New Year with great anticipation. This is because the New Year offers us a kind of clean slate. In our culture, New Year’s Day is almost a national Day of Atonement when all evils in our life are wiped clean and we promise ourselves, our family, or God that things are going to be different in the coming year. Maybe your mantra was “debt free in 2003” or “losing some weight in 2008.”
I don’t like New Year’s resolutions. They tend to focus on man and a host of temporal things, often with no redeeming value. I know, I know, there are exceptions such as Jonathan Edwards who did keep a list of resolutions which did have redeeming value. But if I am honest, the one thing I really despise about myself is something I can’t really change through resolution: My depraved sinful nature. I never cease to be amazed at what my heart is capable of. If I had to make a “resolution” it would be, “I don’t want to sin this coming year.” By the way, anytime an enlightened believer who does not think man is truly dead in sin but that he possesses true free will, just give him one challenge: tell him to choose with his human free will to never sin again. Have a camera ready for the facial expression! He can’t do it and that is the point. Even as a believer he can’t!
There is somewhat of an irony in all this. God hates sin, and in a specific moment in our lives he saves us from sin which he hates and then leaves us in those sinful bodies for a while. Then, when his will for us in this life is done, he lets us die thereby bringing about what we really want: to be free from the body of this death.
I came across an old “act of contrition” prayer from my parochial upbringing. I think I like it. It reads,
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen
You’ll notice the last line has, “I firmly resolve…” The verb “resolve” sounds a lot like “resolution.” So if I am to “resolve” anything this year, this is it.
Categories: Christian living