From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:16-21, ESV).
It’s that time of year the year again—the beginning to be precise—when you are making your New Year’s resolutions and reflecting on last year’s. Maybe they were a success. Maybe not. But that’s okay. Here we are again, back at the beginning. A fresh start. A chance to transform yourself. A chance to reinvent. New Year; New You.
This year you’ll be thinner. Time to jump on the latest diet craze. Or maybe the newest work-out trend. Get your physical stuff in gear. New Year; New You.
Or maybe it’s time to really get serious about your career. Read some books on successful leadership, maybe something about the characteristics of a good leader. You know, the such and so many habits of successful people. New Year; New You.
Maybe you want to put your financial house in order. Time to beef up on the seven habits of the rich, read up on the latest financial guru, put a plan into action, maybe attend a few seminars. Backing off on your tithe to the church ought to let you save a little more. Or maybe you ought to increase it. The more you give, the more you get, right? New Year; New You.
Perhaps you’re resolved to be a kinder, gentler version of you. You want to treat those you love better. Maybe you can institute one of those jars where you drop in a quarter every time you say something mean as punishment, or every time you do a good deed and then save up for a reward. In any case, there has to be some way to measure your progress. New Year; New You.
Perhaps you have resolved to be a better Christian this year. You’ll work harder, do more good deeds, really show God how much you love Him. You’ll chart your progress in your heart and your mind. New Year; New You.
But so often even our strongest resolutions go by the wayside; the initial motivation fades. Life throws us unexpected curveballs. We grow weary of trying when it seems as if no forward progress is being made. We realize that we cannot, in and of ourselves, reach these goals. Maybe we’ve even set the wrong ones. New Year? New You?
Fortunately, God does not measure our worth by outward appearance of forward progress. He doesn’t leave it to us and our resolutions to make all things, including ourselves, new. Instead, God declares us new in Christ! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV). We already are new creatures in Christ. God, says St. Paul, does not judge by the outward appearance. When we see failure, when we see “backsliding,” God sees Jesus! He sees newness, He creates newness, He gives newness. God takes the initiative, reconciling us—and the whole world—to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son so that we are, and ever will be, New in Him. New Year; New You. New Day; New You. New Moment; New You. In Christ, now and forever.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, You make all things new. Help us to trust in the newness that You give, even when we cannot see it, so that we may serve You and rejoice in You; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Two of our missionaries have experienced the loss of family members over this Christmas season. Let us pray for all those who mourn: Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Resurrection and the Life, grant that all those who mourn their loved ones may find comfort in the Resurrection of the Dead when You will finally and fully make all things new. Grant comfort to those who mourn, and dwell with them in their sorrow; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- Did you miss last week’s final Advent hymn devotion? You can still read it here.
- One of the missionaries who lost a loved one was A.J. Davis, who lost his maternal grandfather. Please keep A.J. and his family in your prayers. A.J. is serving in Slovakia.
- Sarah Berta-Somogyi, serving in Hungary, lost her mother this Christmas. Please keep Sarah and her family in your prayers!