The New Year traditionally starts with good intentions. For the Babylonians the year began with promises to return borrowed objects and pay debts, and the Romans made vows to the god Janus, hence the name of this first month being January.
A New Year Resolution nowadays is generally an intention to change an undesired trait or behaviour, in order to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve our life. Although we make them fully intending to keep to them, studies have shown that a vast majority of our New Year Resolutions fail, despite our confidence of success at the beginning. Failure can be disheartening which, if you’re like me, can be one reason for not making a New Year Resolution – although I have considered attempting to learn Paul’s letter to the Romans off by heart as it is a particular favourite of mine (but not succeeded yet).
Whether or not we begin our year with this particular tradition we do all have times in our lives when we resolve to make improvements and so we have probably all experienced feelings of disappointment when our goals are not achieved. In our efforts to improve we are likely to be confronted with the truth in the saying, ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’, which is the admonition Jesus gave to his disciples when they failed to stay awake and pray with him during the agonising hours in the garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion and death.
The struggle with good intentions and repeated failure is what the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans confronts us with when he says (in Chapter 7); ‘I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.’ He was referring to his own battle against sin, and a couple of verses later he declares; ‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?’ And I think this will strike a note with us all.
Thankfully we have a saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. Because he did not weaken in his resolve or fail to achieve what was his Father had intended we can have a hope of salvation and join with Paul in saying; ‘Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!’
Wishing you all a happy New Year, in the hope of salvation.