We often make resolutions at the start of a New Year. We might resolve to START doing something good that we have always wanted to do. We might resolve to STOP a bad habit that we have struggled with for a long time. The point of New Year’s resolutions is to improve ourselves in the New Year so we are better than we were in the old one.
While our intentions for these resolutions are good, most of us eventually fail to keep most of them. One researcher said that the average person keeps the majority of their resolutions for only 21 days. But they only keep one or two resolutions all year. However, the one or two they keep become permanent changes in their lives.
Resolutions give us the opportunity to let old things pass away and new things enter into our lives. The Apostle Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.
This passage has a lot to say to us about how we can become better in the coming year. Let’s look at each verse.
Verse 17 - Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.
When Christians make New Year’s resolutions they have an advantage over their non-believing friends because Christ helps us change into a new creation. Actually, in a theological sense, Christians have already been made new. The sins and mistakes and dumb things we did in the past have already been washed away by the blood of Christ. Though theologically Christians may already be new in Christ, from a practical perspective, we still have a lot of growing and changing to do in order to be new. It is important to realize that when an “old thing” goes away it creates a vacuum in our lives. A new thing must fill that vacuum or else the old thing will just come right back. We must learn to replace the negative aspects of our lives with positive things.
Verse 18 - Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
This verse says everything is from God. In the context of this passage, it means everything new that replaces the old is from God. The idea is that Christians are guaranteed God’s help in overcoming our difficulties and becoming new. We have the Holy Spirit to help us make and keep our resolutions. But we must pray and ask God for wisdom and strength. When we pray, we can know that God will hear and respond. God has promised that every Christian has access to Him through prayer (Romans 5:2). God always answers our prayers, though sometimes not the way we expected. God also often responds to the prayers of non-Christians because He is a God of grace and mercy, He is not obligated to do so. If we want to be better people this year than we were last year, we should spend some time praying and asking God what good things we should be doing to replace the negative things we have done in the past. If we pray and ask God for guidance, we should be prepared to listen and respond when He answers. We must also remember that God has already answered our most important prayer, which was for our own salvation. Because of that, we are now reconciled with God. Reconcile means to reunite those who are estranged. It means to remove the enmity between them and change from a position of hostility to a relationship of friendship. Before we became Christians, we lived in opposition to God, living our lives however we wanted to with no regard for God’s plans. We were not in a position of friendship with God and often worked against His plans for our lives. But once we became Christians, things began to change in our lives. Our perspectives and our priorities changed. The way we spent our time, our energy and our resources all changed. Once we became friends of God, we began to work with Him instead of against Him.
Perhaps one of the greatest things that changed in our lives was that God gave us a ministry of reconciliation. That means that God calls us to help others become friends of God as well. Just as someone told us how we could become the friends of God, we should tell others. Along with all the other resolutions Christians make, we should resolve to share our faith regularly with others. Due to differences in our personalities and life situations, we may all do this in different ways, but we should all be sharing Jesus in some way as part of our New Year’s resolutions.
Verse 19 - that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.
Notice that as God is working to reconcile the world to Himself, He does not pay attention to the sins of those He is trying to reach. We may be tempted to only share with people who we think are good enough for the Gospel. But that is not what God does. God does not put us on a scale and then decide who is worth reaching. He reaches out with grace and mercy to all who believe. The most sinful among us can be reconciled to God if we turn to Him in faith. Maybe last year was a bad year for our relationship with God, but this new year can be our best year yet. But we must not take God’s grace and mercy for granted. One day all of our chances will be used up and we will stand before God and give an account. At that moment we will either pass into heaven or be cast into hell and our chance to make resolutions about change will have passed. But at this moment, we still have time to ask God to forgive us and resolve ourselves to follow Him. Will we request that forgiveness? Will we be resolved to follow Him? Those who are not Christians should resolve that this will be the year of their salvation. Those who are Christians should resolve to share the Gospel in the new year with anyone who will listen.
Most people make New Year’s resolutions. Christians have the promise from the Lord for help in fulfilling our resolutions. To increase the success rate of our resolutions we must replace our old habits with new habits that will please God. One resolution we should add to our list is to witness more to those who are lost because God has given each of us the ministry of reconciliation.
Terry Dorsett has been a church planter and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. Find all of his books at: