New Year’s Day brings with it some interesting traditions.
People in Romania wear bear costumes and dance around. In Scotland, they make balls from wire and paper, light them on fire, and swing them while walking through the streets. In Italy, people throw pots, pans, and old furniture from their windows as the clock strikes midnight.
In Turkey, they wear red underwear to bring luck to their loved ones. In Latin America, people wear red underwear if they’re looking for love, and green underwear if they’re seeking wealth. I wonder what you wear if you’re looking for both.
One of the most ancient New Year’s customs has to do with resolutions. Babylonians apparently began this tradition 4,000 years ago; they vowed to return borrowed farm equipment. If I have borrowed your tractor, I promise to return it this year.
Statistic Brain Research Institute has compiled some interesting facts regarding New Year’s Resolutions:
• 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions
• Only 8 percent are successful in achieving them
• However, 49 percent have at least infrequent success
• Only 24 percent never succeed in fulfilling their resolution each year.
Here’s a fact I found particularly interesting: People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.
So it’s clearly a good idea to have goals, whether they take the form of New Year’s resolutions or not. What should ours be?
According to a 2016 survey by Money magazine, the most popular New Year’s resolutions were:
• “Enjoy life to the fullest”
• “Live a healthier lifestyle”
• “Lose weight”
• “Save more, spend less”
• “Spend more time with family and friends”
• “Pay down debt.”
How many of them focus on us? How many on others? How many on God?
What New Year’s resolution does our Father want us to make?
As I prayed about that question, a passage came immediately to mind. Let’s explore it together, and see how it can guide us into God’s best plan and purpose for us in the new year.
Know God’s resolutions
On Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus was teaching in the Temple area, where His enemies lined up to debate Him. In two days Jesus will be betrayed; in three He will be crucified.
So it is that the Pharisees “gathered together” (v. 34) to plot against our Lord. Then “one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’” (vv. 35-36).
Let’s understand his trick question. The Jewish authorities counted 248 positive commandments, as many as the members of the body; and 365 negative commands, one for every day of the year; for a total of 613, as many as the Hebrew letters of the Ten Commandments. Which is most important? If Jesus chooses one, He’ll be accused of denigrating the others.
Jesus turns the debate into a proclamation for the ages. Here we find God’s two resolutions for our lives. The first: “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment’” (vs. 37-38).
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison