Doing good in the new year

by Kyle
published January 5, 2013


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Happy New Year!

I love New Year's traditions. Staying up late, drinking Champagne, eating black-eyed peas and watching the ball drop are all just plain fun. Nothing beats that midnight kiss. New Year's is as close as it gets to pure celebration for its own sake, and I love it.

Except resolutions.

Nobody seems to be able to get a handle on those New Year's resolutions. For some reason, they always begin to seem too ambitious and require too much willpower, and they are universally forgotten by at least February.

January is the busiest month for every gym, and I noticed that the seasonal sections of several local stores, which contained Christmas decorations only a few weeks ago, are now stocked with bits of exercise paraphernalia, protein drink mixes and weight loss supplements. In a few more weeks, the same sections will be full of chocolate candies for Valentine's Day.

Why are resolutions so hard to keep?

Before that can be answered, it's worth noting that most New Year's resolutions plan to accomplish something good. Losing weight when you are overweight, after all, is good. Reading more is generally good. Quitting smoking is good. Finishing one significant home improvement project per month because it makes your wife feel like you love her, is good (that's my resolution, in case you were wondering).

No one resolves to kick a puppy every day for a year, or rob a bank at least twice in 2013. I have never heard anyone resolve to pick up a methamphetamine habit.

Why? These things are bad.

Resolutions are hard to keep because they involve doing something good, and humans - you and me both - are not good at doing good.

Even a casual perusal of Scripture would seem to support this idea.

Jeremiah 17:9, for instance, says, "The heart is deceitful above all else and is desperately sick."

Romans 3:12 is even more direct: "There is none who does good, there is not even one."

Paul reminds us later in Romans 3:23, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Humans are just not good at doing good.

So what hope is there for your New Year's resolution?

In Jeremiah 31, God makes a special note of our incapacity for good and resolves to fix the problem with a new covenant. In this covenant, God resolves to put his law in the hearts of man to enable us to know him and truly serve him. That covenant was established by Jesus through his death on a cross and his resurrection from the dead. When a person trusts that Jesus taking their place in death is the only way God can forgive all the bad they've done, God enables that person to do a special kind of good - things that are pleasing to him.

In my life, the enablement of the Holy Spirit is the only hope I have for doing anything good. If I manage to start a good habit or touch someone's life in a positive way in 2013, it will only be because I trusted Christ and allowed him to do it through me.

If you have trusted Christ as well, then rely on him for whatever good you would do this year. If you haven't, "Behold, now is the day of salvation!" (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Start your year by looking at Scripture to see what it says about Christ, and trust him to save you and enable you to do good.

What do you think?

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