How many times have you greeted someone the last few days with that phrase, “Happy New Year”? We all want our new year to be happy, perhaps happier than our previous year. That is why we make resolutions, is it not? “If I lose some of this weight, I will be happier. If I am better with my money this year, I will be happier.” Perhaps those are both true. The problem is, a study showed that only 40% of people get through January with their resolutions intact. By February, it is only 8%. The point is this: even if we keep our resolutions, we do not KNOW they will make us happy, and for 92% of us, we will never know.
But what if we had a way to ensure happiness in the new year? I think we can. We need three new things.
1. A New Birth (John 3:3–5)
2. A New Walk (Romans 6:14)
3. A New Focus (Philippians 3:13–14)
In John 3, Jesus gave Nicodemus the one thing many of us long for – a new birth. What if we could go back and be born again, a clean slate, a new beginning? Well, we can. In our transaction with God through Jesus, we get a do-over. Our sin and failure is no longer held against us. If you want a good New Year, the best place to start is with a New Birth!
In Romans 6, Paul tells us that we have died with Christ to sin and have been raised to walk in newness of life. The idea is that though we still sin, sin no longer holds power or dominion over us. We are not a slave to sin anymore. He goes on to say in verse 11 that we are to reckon, or consider ourselves dead to sin. I like to explain “reckoning” in terms of a budget. In the beginning of the month our bank account looks like we have a lot of money. The bank says we have lots of money, but we know better. we know about all the bills and responsibilities that have to come out of that total. We understand that at that moment, we have a lot of money, but we “reckon” that the reality of the future tells a different story. If we live like we have a lot of money, we will be sorry later. Likewise, even when we look at our lives and see our many failures, we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. We are to live as though the future is already here when Jesus takes us out of this broken world. Want to be happy in the New Year? You need a New Walk.
Lastly, in Philippians 3, Paul says that he is forgetting the things in the past and looking toward the future. The New Year can be a time of forgetting. We need to forget our past failures and successes and press on to a new focus. Perhaps we need to forget the past failures of others and treat them in a way indicative of the new birth of John 3.
I assume that we all want a Happy New Year. I imagine that we will all make resolutions to try to make 2014 happier than 2013. But whether we are part of the 92% or the 8%, let’s trust the happiness of the New Year to God and let Him work in us that which we cannot work in ourselves.
Happy New Year!