Published Dec. 31, 2013

Paul's Epistle...

Christmas is – or should be – a religious holiday. We celebrate the birth of Christ, our Savior.

But New Year's Day is, on the other hand, a secular holiday. It simply marks the start of another calendar year. And, although God established the annual cycle, man determined the calendar we use.

One long-time tradition is the making of New Year's resolutions. Research by the Barna organization found that two-thirds of Americans have, at some time, made New Year's resolutions. A separate study last year by the University of Scranton found that 45 percent of Americans – nearly half – actually make some sort of New Year's resolution. But only 8 percent claim success in achieving their resolution. The most common resolution, by far, is to "lose weight," which is probably why the failure rate is so high.

It occurred to me that perhaps, although New Year's Day is a secular holiday, we can give it spiritual significance if we use it as an opportunity to pledge ourselves to live for Christ – more completely – through the New Year.  (That, of course, is something we should do anyway.)

How to do that? Well, here are two lists of things we can all include in our resolutions. You might recognize them. Here's the first:

You'll surely recognize that as a paraphrase of the Ten Commandments, as presented by Moses in Exodus 20.

But there's another list in the New Testament. Here's a paraphrase offered by Charles Swindoll* of what Paul says in Galatians 5:19-23:

All in all, you couldn't do better than to base your New Year's resolutions on those admonitions – even all of them.

It's one way to be assured that 2014 will be an outstanding and blessed year as you live more fully for Christ, in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).

- Paul

*Charles R. Swindoll, in "The Finishing Touch," Word Publishing, (c) 1994, pps. 19-20.

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