Words of wisdom for 2016, where can you find them? If you google New Year’s quotations, the following passage may appear on your computer screen.
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” ~G.K. Chesterton
When I first came across this Chesterton quote, I squirreled it away in my tattered old quotation notebook for later use. I expected that it would make a great accompaniment to a New Year’s post in this blog.
Which brings me to my reason for writing this. That quotation turned out to have even more meaning for me than just a nice quote to add to today’s post because I discovered that a vital portion of that passage written by Chesterton (English writer, 1874-1936) was omitted.
The rest of Chesterton’s passage reads: “Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards. Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Chesterton was not only a prolific writer and profound thinker of his time, he was a Christian apologist. His book, The Everlasting Man, was read by a young atheist and proved instrumental in that young man becoming a Christian. Who was the atheist? C.S. Lewis, famous author of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Reading the passage in its entirety gave me pause to consider. Everyone can identify with the point Chesterton makes about starting afresh. Isn’t that what we attempt when the New Year rolls around?
We begin that brand new year with good intentions. Perhaps we even make resolutions to [insert your to-do list here], supposedly to improve our health, well-being, stop bad habits, whatever.
A new year is a new beginning. But isn’t each and every day a new beginning? Why don’t we start afresh every morning, not just on New Year’s Day?
Instead we tend to make promises (resolutions) we don’t or can’t or won’t keep. We start off great guns adhering to our resolutions and then we slough off. Most of the time we hang on to our old ways, our old baggage, our old vices…our old stuff. And each day becomes just like the one before.
What if we did just one thing fresh by starting each day with God’s Word instead of trying to force ourselves to stick to our resolutions?
What if we commenced that new beginning we’re given each day upon awakening by spending it with a Savior?
Because that’s exactly what the last part of Chesterton’s passage tells us: “Unless a man be born again (accept the gift of salvation and belief in Jesus Christ – my words here), he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
So how do I choose to live each day afresh? The answer for me is in God’s Word.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words for the church in Ephesus and for us in Ephesians 5: 15-20: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Being careful how I live, making the most of every opportunity, giving thanks. That’s what is important to me.
That’s what I want to bring into each new day in this New Year of 2016 instead of making resolutions I no doubt would break. How about you?
May it be so.
“What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.” — Vern McLellan