I love this time of year as the Christmas season extends into the new year. Everyone seems happier. More joyful. Everywhere you go “Happy New Year” greetings are exchanged.
“Happy New Year” is more than a trite expression. It has substance. Reality. And meaning. The calendar is new. New plans are made for the coming months ahead. New incentives, goals, and plans are formalized by businesses. The sports world will crown new champions in 2018. And students begin a new academic year with a fresh start.
New is fun. We like it. We enjoy it. We look forward to it. It may be a new relationship. A new job. A new home. A new chapter in our lives. A new adventure. New is exciting.
So, how about a new you?
God challenges us to newness with these words: Be renewed in the attitude of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:23-24)
We typically think that making resolutions in the New Year will affect a change in our lives. Move us in a new direction. And help us be a better person. However, becoming a new person requires a good bit more than setting some goals and making New Year’s resolutions.
In his commentary on Ephesians, Dr. C. G. Caldwell observes that the word “new” in this text “is not necessarily ‘new’ with reference to time.” He points out that “the new man involves new qualities in the saved, changed inner person.”
“That which is “new’ (kainos) is different in species, character, form, quality, or mode,” writes Caldwell. “It is of a different nature. This new man is spiritual and/or moral as contrasted with that which is old, worldly, and corrupt.”
Maybe the reason why so many New Year’s resolutions are soon abandoned is because we are seeking outward change without inward transformation. The new self begins with a renewal of the mind.
Renewal, according to W. E. Vine, involves an “adjustment of (our) moral and spiritual vision.” It means we must fine tune our thinking to be in harmony with the mind of God. The word suggests “continued action.”
When a person is baptized into Christ for the remission of sins, he comes into a special relationship with the Lord. But baptism is a one-time event. Disicpleship and spiritual renewal is a life-long process. It is never-ending.
So, how do Christians keep from getting stale? How do we stay spiritually fresh? How do we effect a new self in a new year? Here are 5 steps to help you.
(1) Believe you can change. Too often resolutions are made with reservation. We don’t really believe we can be different. “That’s just the way I am” is a worn out excuse for failure. Renewal is possible. God says so.
(2) Decide what you value. Be honest. What is really important to you? What are your priorities? Values? And principles?
(3) Quit talking about being a better person, and focus on specific changes. What would make you a better person? A better Christian? A better husband? Wife? Father? Or mother? Where are you falling short? And what virtues do you need to develop?
(4) Develop a plan of action. What are you going to do? When are you going to do it? And how are you going to do it?
Here are some things that will help. A regular Bible reading program. A commitment to weekly worship. Fellowship with other Believers. Daily periods of prayer. Reading good books. Listening to inspiring music. Mediation and quite time. And reading religious blogs like ThePreachersWord.
(5) Focus on godliness and rely on Christ. The text of our passage is talking about our relationship to the Lord. Being renewed and becoming a new person is an exercise in futility apart from God’s righteousness and holiness. Being conformed to His image and after his likeness should be our ultimate goal in life.
Again, Happy New Year to our readers. May you find happiness in Lord. And experience newness of life through spiritual renewal.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman