Happy New Year from Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.
New Year's resolutions have been a tradition as long as I can remember. Many of them involve some type of self-improvement, such as losing weight, reducing credit card debt, or stopping smoking. All good resolutions, though it seems that keeping them is the biggest challenge.
St. Paul gives us some resolutions which we all should consider. He writes in Colossians 3:12-15: "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (13) bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (14) And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (15) And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." (ESV)
Note that these resolutions are not just centered on oneself but have direct impact on our neighbors. Compassion, kindness, meekness, patience, bearing with one another's burdens, forgiving, thankfulness, peace that rules the heart, and love ... all affects our neighbor. These resolutions would be of little use for a hermit who shuns his neighborhood. Imagine if the billions of people who inhabit our planet would seriously make these their New Year's resolutions.
In Scripture we find examples of those who have resolved to live this way. I think of the Old Testament, where Joseph who was sold into slavery and was falsely imprisoned, yet he still maintained a meekness, bore other burdens and forgave those who wronged him. He in kindness and patience waited on God to deliver him, which the Lord did in His own time.
Many might say, "These are impossible resolutions to meet, we have a hard-enough time losing weight." Others, who do not set resolutions, have suffered failure in years past so they forgo another failure with another New Year's resolution.
To fulfill these resolutions, we look to the Spirit to strengthen us to go forward in this challenge. When we fail in keeping them, we look to the Babe of Bethlehem who forgives our sins and failures and restores us as His own to again go forward.
These resolutions are not just New Year's resolutions, they are a new you. From the time of your baptism God has been creating this newness in you that resolves to put on a life of love. For St. Paul writes in Romans 6:4: "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (ESV)
If you have made a resolution that's good, work to keep it, but add the above resolutions to your list, relying on God to walk in this newness of life. Blessings on the 10th Day of Christmas.
• David Otten is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.