Most of us like new things. There is just something about an item, whatever it may be, that has never been owned or used by someone else. We may have to buy a used car because of the expense of a new one, but if given the choice, most of us would prefer the new one. Those who grew up as a younger brother or sister in a family always enjoyed it when they received new clothes that were new off the rack, rather than hand-me-downs. And, when the holiday season at the end of the year concludes, most of us relish the idea of the opportunity to begin afresh in a new year.
In terms of beginning a new year, we have all experienced the disappointment of making resolutions for the new year and then failing to keep them. Whatever our resolutions might be, if we have taken time to make them we genuinely intend to have a different result this year than last. However, what we fail to consider, or at least what we often fail to remember each year, is that we have to make changes in our attitudes and lifestyle in order to make those resolutions come true.
A prominent and successful educator from the East coast wrote a book in which he addressed the idea of changing the cycle of failure that characterizes too many inner city youth. One of the primary principles he used to motivate his students was this statement: “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got!” A successful motivational speaker in the business world has a similar philosophy. He says, “In order for things to change, you’ve got to change.” The principle is so simple, yet it is so routinely ignored.
In order for this year to be different from last year, and presumably better, each one of us will have to make changes in the way we live. It may mean avoiding the donut shop, or foregoing that second helping at the dinner table, or eating more fruits and vegetables. It may mean consciously taking the time to stop and consider how to respond to someone’s actions or comments, instead of just flying off the handle. Whatever the situation, if we want this year to be better we will have to start by changing the way we conduct ourselves.
Nowhere is this more important than in our spiritual walk. If we want to improve our walk with the Lord, we will have to make some kinds of changes in order to accomplish this. Of course, the beginning point is obedience to the gospel. We cannot have something new, in terms of our relationship to God, until we do what He requires in order to be saved. If we obey the gospel, then new things will come (2 Cor. 5:17).
As Christians, the same is true. We cannot coast along in our spiritual routine, whatever it may be. Our call as Christians is to grow and to mature in the faith (1 Pet. 2:1-3; Heb. 5:11-14). We cannot allow ourselves to be satisfied with being what we are. We should be taking action to make ourselves better each day, for this is what truly glorifies God.
Arriving at something new in our maturity of faith is a process that continues until we reach heaven. It begins with a personal commitment to put the Lord first and to let Him mold us into the best we can be here in life. It takes work and dedication, an exercising of the mind by the study of God’s word, which, when put into practice makes us the living sacrifices He wants us to be (Rom. 12:1, 2). Make something new this year in your walk with God and you can have that “new car smell” not only here in life, but also in eternity.