“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” – Deuteronomy 30:19b;20
As many people are drawn to contemplate upon the new year that’s coming, I recently came across a phrase that someone had posted on Facebook. It says (I’m translating here because it was originally posted in Tagalog), “I will avoid things that make me fat…like weighing scales, mirrors, and pictures!” It seems like our disdain for weight gain has always been triggered by what we’ve done with our diet in the month of December. It seems that guilt then carries over the following month, which of course is the start of the new year. And don’t get me started on debt gain! January can really be a sad month when many are dealing with diet and debt issues.
When God gave the Israelites [through Moses] His commandments and law, sealing His covenant upon them, the Lord was dealing with several issues as well – most particularly with the heart of His people being drawn to worship of other gods. The covenant God made with His people through Moses was a bilateral agreement – promises of blessings and curses would come as a result of their obedience (or disobedience) to the Law. At the proclamation of the covenant, the Israelites were optimistic about their resolve to keep to their end of the bargain. They even declared, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” – Exodus 19:8. But it turned out to be a difficult covenant for them to keep. Cycles of blessings and curses ensued as people found it difficult to follow the Lord.
This sounds like many of the resolutions we try to keep in life, especially those ones that we ceremoniously pronounce at the beginning of each new year. Perhaps resolutions are not the problem themselves, but the people making them – us. We just don’t have what it takes to follow through with them because our hearts are predisposed to violating and veering away from the improvements we want to make in life. The Bible holds true; we all have sinned, and we still continue to do so. We know that from Romans 3:23, but thank God for v. 24 that came after, which says, “and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” We also know from Romans 6:23 that the wages of our sin is death, but then in the same verse a quick burst of hope comes with the words, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Both these important verses declare that our hope, our improvement, our progress, our remake, our renewal will not happen with our own effort. It will happen “by Christ Jesus” and “in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Resolutions will become a whiz and a blur if a transformation of the heart and spirit doesn’t take place through Jesus Christ. Moses was right on the money when he prompted the Israelites, “Choose life!” Choose Christ and you’ll be on the path not just for a new year but a new life.
Happy New Year to all of you…and for those who choose Christ, the blessed hope of a new life will be yours today and forever!