“New Year, new you!” Every year begins with this popular phrase–the promise of the metaphorical slate being wiped clean. A single tick of the clock separates the person we have been from the new person we can be. It’s as if we shed off the skin of the previous year and leave it behind, stepping forward as some better, shinier version of ourselves.
Although our hopes are high and our intentions good, only a short time after this promising experience, we find ourselves returning to old, familiar habits, leaving our New Year’s resolutions in the dust. Though it happens year after year, we continue to make the same promises to ourselves: health, wealth, happiness.
Even for those who do keep resolutions, there may still be that nagging feeling by the end of the year that says it wasn’t enough. No matter what we change, we’re still left with that itch–that desire to be something new–like it’s ingrained in our DNA. Because it kind of is. The longing to be a better version of ourselves and live a fuller life is part of our design.
But we don’t have to wait a full year to do it! What if I told you we don’t have to wait a month, a week, or even another moment to experience this renewal? What if I told you that our slates can be continuously wiped clean–that we can always be something new? In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul tells us “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (NKJV)
Inward or Upward?
Our culture has taught us to look inward for all of our answers. We have the do-it-yourself attitude. Don’t get me wrong, this can be an admirable quality. Independence from others is a crucial aspect of maturity. But what if we look upward instead of inward? What happens when we turn our face to God and behold what He did and what He has already accomplished in us? What if we accept what He says as truth, take on the identity He intended for us, and allow Him to renew us daily?
But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:15-18 (NASB)
Did you catch that? Jesus accomplished what the law of Moses could not. He unveiled us–His bride. He cast off our shame to reveal our beauty and give us freedom. The law of Moses, though full of God’s truth, could only bring shame that made all want to run and hide. We would never be good enough to measure up. We would strive and strive toward an impossible goal–just like all those “New Year’s resolutions.”
Jesus made a way where there was no way. What He did unveiled us. It took the condemnation off our hearts so that we could shine as the beings He created us to be. And with our unveiled faces, we can turn and look upon His glory and be transformed. You see, it’s a shift from what we’re used to. We don’t need to look within ourselves for any of the answers or for the power to change. He holds it all in His mercy and grace.
But What About Everything I’ve Done?
In Titus 3:5-6 we learn that “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior…” (NASB, emphasis mine).
There was nothing that we could have done to make ourselves righteous. There was no way for any of us to be “good” enough. We all have imperfections as part of living in an imperfect and broken world. But He had a plan–a plan to give the very best He had as a ransom for His creation.
You can always tell how much something is worth by the amount that someone is willing to pay for it. And for you, He was willing to give something worth far more than we can ever fully grasp. You know why? Because you’re worth it to Him. You mean that much to Him. He desired closeness with you that much.
Before Jesus, there was separation between God and man. But because of Jesus. God can now live in man through the Holy Spirit. Having that piece of God within us brings about the continuous renewal of our minds and hearts that we desire. As we grow and learn through the Holy Spirit, we are actually being molded by God.
Molded by God
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.”
Isaiah 64:8 (NASB)
If we let Him, He’ll mold us into someone new, ever-changing and exciting. Yes, you read that correctly–exciting! So often, we see God as a big old man in the sky with boring rules and a firm hand. But in reality, that doesn’t reflect His character at all. God is full of life! After all, He’s the source of it.
That sense of humor you have? It’s from Him. All of the breath-taking natural wonders in the world? They’re from Him too. He loves beauty and delights in laughter. No need to fear. The Maker of the stars will not mold you into something boring and lifeless. In contrast, the only true life and vibrancy you can ever have is found in Him.
The Key: Renewing our Minds
“[B]e renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
Ephesians 4:23-24 (NASB)
Let’s resolve to renew our minds by agreeing with who He says we are and putting on our new self in this new year! Let’s allow Him to take the reigns and cover us in His righteousness so that we can always be squeaky clean (even when we’re not). Let’s allow His love and goodness to change the way we see ourselves. Only then will our heart change, leading our desires to change, leading our actions to change.
It’s hard to maintain any changes that we make ourselves, so instead, let’s allow the Giver of life to come into our hearts and our thoughts to make us new in this new year.
To you and yours, many blessings for the new year!
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