Every 365 days we renegotiate our resolutions we failed to live by the previous year and promise to try harder in the next 365 days to uphold the resolve so easily entrusted to our temporal spirit of flesh. Within 90 days of said new resolutions we find ourselves squandering away the tenacity that so easily ensnared us with hope New Years. Man is the only creature that makes these kinds of promises. The animals live day to day with the knowledge of where their food comes (Isaiah 1:3) and how silly those created in the image of God frantically seek for satisfaction in new acquired resolutions to frame their lives with.
The need to find resolve in our hearts is what the Lord has always wanted for his people. Joshua uttered those wonderful words of declaration when he said, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Abraham was a man known by God “that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him” (Genesis 18:19). David was a man after the heart of the Lord “who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22). These men had resolutions in their lives that guided their hearts to the throne of God.
Paul had a simple set of resolutions he lived by. It was not a complex set of requirements that demanded a long list of do’s and don’ts. He did not try to make unreasonable expectations upon himself. His motto in life year by year was clear and demonstrative: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).
The apostle from Tarsus knew the struggles he faced in life and how often he failed to live up the grace of God (Romans 7:13-24). The thorn in the flesh was paramount in his life to teach him the sufficiency of the grace of God (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). His life was measured by the battle lines draw against the “spiritual hosts of wickedness” (Ephesians 6:12). The race he ran was filled with hardships of tribulations, distresses, imprisonments, needs and suffering (2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 11:23-28). How was he able to live such a full life without fear but with power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)? He did ONE thing: he forgot those things behind and reached for the things ahead!
Standing before King Agrippa the prisoner Paul declared that he did many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. “This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:10-11). New Year’s resolutions do not remove the guilt of yesterday; only the grace and mercy of God. Paul was able to clearly affirm that his past did not define who he was nor did it determine his future. Forgiven of his sins (Acts 22:16) he was reaching forward to those things which were ahead. Paul was going through life ‘looking through the front windshield not the rear view mirror.’
On the mountain Jesus instructed His disciples to seek the rule of God in their lives and not worry about “tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). If I am not to be concerned about the next day why should I fret about my yesterdays? Forgetting those things that are behind is the knowledge that we can make better choices today because we are reaching toward a higher call. All of my decisions will be framed within the will of God. Only Satan wants us to focus on yesterday to see what miserable failures we are and how worthless we become in examining our lives. Driving with yesterday’s failures will only cloud what we can accomplish today.
As I approach a New Year my resolve should be to forget the things that are behind. To forget something is to “disremember” it (fail or be unable to remember something). Remove the stain of guilt with God’s love. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:12). He did not say north and south: He said EAST and WEST. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). The “abundant mercy” of God helps us forget the past.
Peering over the horizon of a new year our focus should be to do “all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). Reaching forward is how Paul planned his day. He wanted to lay hold of what he had put in front of his life: a goal! Henry David Thoreau said one thing right: “We only hit what we aim at.” Unlike Thoreau the apostle Paul had a goal of eternal reward as he patterned his life to the true and living God. Everything in life must be measured by this goal. Whatever resolutions are made should only be made with the goal of a higher call in God.
The life of a child of God is filled with promise and hope. It will not be measured by the futile pursuits of materialism or pleasure. Our resolutions will be built upon the simple truth of God’s will. Like Paul I will do one thing: forget what is behind and reach forward to what is before me. I will make my goals to reflect in my prayer life, my time in God’s word, my time with my fellow Christians, my efforts with the local family of God and my hope in the promise of eternal life.
When 365 days fade from the sands of time many we know will no longer be with us. For some who are reading these words time will be shorter as life is taken during this year. The reality of the coming of the Lord should never be far removed from our knowledge as he will return as a thief in the night (2 Peter 3:10). But does it matter? Enoch lived in such a way that when he “was translated so that he did not see death” (Hebrews 11:5) it was not a surprise to him. Saints of God live 365 days a year with the expectation of the coming of the Lord and when that happens they will be found waiting not wanting (Luke 12:35-48; 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12).
Moses the man of God said, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12). With the passing of an old year and the promise of a new year we should number our days in accordance with the grace of God. Be thankful for the breath of life given by God that we are able to see another day. Plead the promises of God to guide you through another year. Live each day looking to Jesus as Savior, King, Lord and Teacher so that when time is no more we may all stand on the eternal shores of God’s promise and give praise and glory to Lord God Almighty.