Some historians believe that the Babylonians, about 4000 years ago, were the first to make New Year Resolutions. Their idea was that the first day of a New Year was a perfect time to reflect on past errors and plan on making improvements during the following year. For the Babylonians, by the way, New Year Resolutions usually had to do with paying off debts or returning borrowed equipment or goods.
Centuries later, as the Romans continued this tradition, they focused on the god Janus (the origin of the word “January.”) The god Janus was said to have two faces: one on the back of his head and one in the front, thus being able to see the past and the future at the same time.
In our day, New Year Resolutions center mostly around breaking negative habits of the past year. It’s been reported that the top seven resolutions for 2017 are: get healthy, get organized, spend more time with family, spend less and save more, travel, learn a new hobby, read more. These seem like great resolutions. (If you know me well, you’d know I’d bring the list to ten by adding reading the Bible, daily devotions, weekly worship.)
A great Bible verse to memorize as we begin a new year is the first verse of the first chapter of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John is speaking about the beginning of time, but I think it can be applied to the beginning of the New Year.
How do we keep our resolutions? Forget Janus. Forget trying to keep a resolution by relying only on personal “will-power.” Forget ignoring God’s help and strength! As the year 2017 begins, remember the biblical words: “In the beginning was the Word.” Seeking the help of the Spirit of the one, true God, in Christ Jesus, is the absolute best way to make a fresh start, a new beginning!
May I suggest: directly connect your New Year Resolutions with Jesus this year. Expand your spoken resolutions to include Jesus. For example: “I’m going to get healthier this year. In this beginning is Jesus.” “I’m going to spend more time with my family this year. In this beginning is Jesus.”
I, for one, am going to improve myself in 2017. But not on my own! In this beginning is Jesus. I pray you’ll do the same!