The New Year is an opportunity to make new plans and set new goals. True, the experience of life and common sense suggests that despite all our wishes and dreams, what will happen this year and what each of its 365 days will bring us, only the Lord knows.
Master of the new year, 2018
Believe it or not, the master of the new year, 2018, is not a dog, but the Lord God! What the Apostle James wrote to the merchants of the first century is relevant for all of us and for the new year, 2018. «If the Lord wills, then we will live…» From this, first of all, the fulfillment of all our wishes and plans for the coming year will depend.
“Come now, you who say, «Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit»– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, «If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.»”
It is a fact. Just like those who read these words of James for the first time on papyrus scrolls, we, today – who read them in beautifully published books and on ultramodern telephones and tablets – still “do not know what tomorrow will bring”!
What will happen in the new year depends largely on us
However, in spite of this obvious fact of a person’s inability to know or determine his future, what will happen in the new year, in many ways, depends on us. The Lord is the Almighty One; this is an undeniable truth, but according to the revelations of His Word, He also gave certain authority to man. Therefore, however paradoxical it may seem to us, there is a lot of good that we can do with God’s help. We can influence this coming year to be better than the previous one.
The Epistle of the Apostle James 4: 13-15 condemns the sins of self-confidence, bragging and arrogance. But in this same Scripture we find amazing words that encourage us to set specific goals for the future and to fulfill them with God’s help. Yes, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. And it’s also true that our life is like a vapor that appears for a short time, and then disappears. But this is in no way an occasion for inaction, but merely a reminder of our dependence on God. These instructions tell us that we should say: «If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.» We’ll live and do it! This is what God would like to hear from us. Every day of our lives is a wonderful gift from Him to us. But with this gift, we are also given a certain responsibility – to use it to do good. God gives us every day that we live and do good works, occasions that benefit not only ourselves, but also those who are close to us. Understanding this truth is very important.
Every day a lot of good things happen in the world thanks to those people who trust God constantly, saying: «If the Lord wills, then we will live and do this and that.» These are people who not only say so, but they, trusting in God, live and do many amazing things around the world.
The sin of inaction is a problem for many Christians
On the other hand, every day a lot of good things in the world do not happen only because those who are given the opportunity to live and do them are simply inactive. And so it goes, day after day, year after year. Only God knows what our lives, our families and our society would be like, if all Christians used all the opportunities given by God to do the good things that He teaches and motivates us to do through His Word.
The problem is that many Christians do not have any specific goals for tomorrow. They correctly understand and say: «If the Lord wills, we will live …,» but then they mistakenly think: «… and He (that is, God) will do this and that …» Therefore the perception of such people is that it is the fault of the Lord that many good things are not achieved or that much has not been done in their lives. In their eyes, there is no change in the family or in society because God doesn’t do it.
God gives us life as a gift, but He also expects concrete plans and action from us that we will perform with His help. Think about the following words:
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
James 4:17 ESV
In God’s eyes, sin is not only the iniquity that a person does, but also the good that a person knows that he must do and does not do! Do you remember the famous story that Jesus told about the good Samaritan (Luke 10: 30-37)? In it, He made it clear to us that the wickedness was not only of the robbers, who attacked the wanderer, but also the Levite and the priest, who passed him by and made no effort to help the dying man!
I think we all should seriously think about this, especially at the beginning of this year. Not very long ago we celebrated the New Year 2017, and now it has come and gone. A whole year passed by us and some did not even notice. Many of us can condemn the evil men in our nation who are everywhere acting with lawlessness, committing violence, destroying life and society. But how many of us are like the «pious» priests and Levites?! I mean times when we knew the right thing to do, but simply did nothing?! This concerns our duties as Christians, parents, husbands and wives. It also concerns how we treated ourselves, our physical, mental and spiritual health. It’s not just about good deeds that we knew about, but did not do, but also about the good fruits that we did not bring, because we did not do our best to use our talents and opportunities. In the parables of talents, the crime of the slave who received only one talent was not the evil he did with his talent. The Lord called him a «wicked servant» because, although he knew how to use his talent to make profit for his master, he did not do so (Matthew 25: 14-30).
Make a firm decision!
I believe that if the Lord wills and you live, this new year can be better for you and your loved ones than the previous one. Only, you need to make a firm decision in all areas of your life to do the kind of good you know you should do, but for various reasons did not do!
Happy New Year, blessed by God!