New Mercies for a New Year

It’s a new year. And if you’re anything like me, you spend a little time taking inventory of your life. This usually leads to dissatisfaction, followed by a commitment to change things in the next 365 days. This is the new year’s resolution.

There is much to change: this is the year you finally lose that weight, finally get into reading, finally lighten up on that internet time, finally start getting up before you actually have to, and on and on. As Christians, we have commitments of our own that we declare with gusto; mainly reading the Bible in a year. We also commit ourselves to finally beating that one besetting sin, reconciling with that person we have been distant from, and growing deeper in holiness and kindness than ever before. To all of these ends I say, go for it. God uses opportunities like new years to help us reevaluate our lives. These moments are good things, even if they often fall short.

If you are uncomfortable where you are now, that may be the Holy Spirit telling you it’s time to move. This is a very good thing, contrary to how you may feel at the moment. This means that He is at work in you. Often, this can be discouraging, too. The road ahead is a long and dangerous one, and you wonder if you’ll make it.  But God does not send us where His grace and empowerment do not lead. “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ.” (Phil. 1:6) In other words, God is in the business of change. His promise is to further conform you into the image of His Son. And He has never once failed to keep His promises to us. The change will come, slowly but surely. That is good news.

If you are uncomfortable with change, you’re in good company. This is also the time where you look back at how you’ve changed throughout the previous year. And if you’re anything like me, this moment is both celebratory and disappointing. Every year passes, and I can see that I’m improving in one thing while getting worse at something else. Last year, I learned to trust people more; at the same time, I was caustic with my words. Ups and down occur spiritually, and sometimes I wonder if God hoped I’d be further along now. This is why it is important to know that God never changes. He doesn’t suddenly change who He is or how He feels about you. He already knew that you would say that unkind word, that you would snap in that moment, and He knows the lustful thoughts you pretend you don’t have. Often I have the thought, “If only they knew [fill in the blank], they wouldn’t love me.” Well, God knows more of your wrongs than you do. His forgiveness is available to you, right now in this moment.

We have a deep understanding of Christ and His work already accomplished for us. We know a lot about what will happen to us upon death as Christians. But very little of our thought is devoted to God’s work, here and now. Jesus died not only for your past and your future, but also your present. And forgiveness and empowerment to change can be yours, right now. Through the power of the gospel, your debts are paid in full. There is no wrath or judgement left for God to give you. When His Spirit, people must change. The greedy become generous, the gossips defend people’s honor, the angry become tender hearted, the lustful stop lusting, and the prideful become humble. Sinners rebelling against God come to worship Him. Rejoice, God is on your side in this new year!