Thursday, January 01, 2009

Resolutions


"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8)

The tradition of making resolutions for a new year dates back to ancient Babylon. It was connected then with the New Moon, which signaled the end of the winter season. Roman emperors managed to manipulate the calendar enough to get the event out of sync with the moon, finally declaring in 153 B.C. January 1 as the New Year. And the early Greeks used a baby to symbolize the rebirth of their wine-god Dionysus as far back as 600 B.C.
These celebrations were the pagan ceremonies of pantheistic or polytheistic systems of worship, and the early Church fiercely fought these sensual revelries. However, by the Middle Ages, many of the pagan festivals and gods had been "Christianized" by various missionary efforts. Thus, by the twelfth century, most of Europe had integrated many of the pagan celebrations into Christian "holy days." That battle between the "traditions" and the effort of Christians to focus their families and churches on worship of our Lord continues today. Commercial entities praise "Santa Claus" over the birth of Jesus Christ. And the "Easter Bunny" vies for attention over the Lord’s resurrection.

Today, as we face the tradition of "resolutions," we must remember three important restrictions from Scripture. First, whatever we promise must be genuine, truthful, and from our hearts (James 5:12). Second, God takes these "vows" seriously (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5). And finally, God’s requirements for our lives are both simple and profound: Do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God (our text). Maybe the best resolution we could make is one like King David’s plea: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10). HMM III

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