United Reformed Church LogoThis can be an exciting time. It is the beginning of a new year. Some people like to make New Year's resolutions or promises to themselves about what they plan to accomplish in the new year. We all need to make changes in our lives, like losing weight and doing more exercise and saving more money (often from less resources).

Having explored an interesting Christian environmental course booklet called Tenants of the King we have become more environmentally-friendly and conscious and we may want to make a New Year’s resolution to reduce-reuse-recycle more, avoid single use plastic and too much packaging, walk and cycle more (if it is applicable), waste less energy and / or invest in better insulation at home, avoid toxic cleaning products, use less paper for office purposes, fly and drive less (when possible), don’t waste money on unnecessary clothing, and generally reduce our carbon footprint.

New Year’s Eve is also a time of partying and having fun, so resolutions made that night could involve some funny things which might reflect bad habits. For instance “I resolve to stop feeding the office plant leftover coffee. I will use water instead. Or, I will deactivate my Netflix subscription (as binge watching those series might show a kind of addiction).

The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January. The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. However, as Christians what kind of resolution should we make (that we could keep)?

If we are interested in keeping any of our resolutions this year, we should think of the methods employed by Paul in Philippians 3:13-14. “Forgetting what is behind.” Paul is talking about forgetting in such a way that the past, good or bad, will have no negative bearing on one’s present spiritual growth and condition. We should forget the wrongs that could seriously burden us with guilt and despair. - “Straining toward what is ahead.” “Straining” refers to continuous concentration, like a runner in a race with his or her body bent over, hand outstretched, eyes fastened on the finish line, never giving a backward glance, focused and determined to complete the race or improve their time. We need to concentrate on our personalised plans for the year (better time management, greater commitment to reading and studying the Bible for instance, getting involved in church activities more enthusiastically, maintaining our giving to charity, living a life of love and peace). The main thing is “Whatever we do, we should do it all for the glory of God.”

(1Corinthians 10:31) - Press on towards the goal (v. 14) If we are going to press on toward our resolutions in 2020 we should always go at our own pace, preferably slowly but steadily, in order not to get exhausted and give up inner and outer change in our lives – because this year, as every year, is going to be different.

Happy New Year! John