RESOLUTIONS RESOLVE

First and foremost let me wish everyone a very Merry Christmas on this Christmas day. I am adding the word ‘very’ to this greeting precisely because 2020 has been a disastrous year. In most people’s eyes the sooner we get beyond 2020 the better.

In many cases those same people will be making New Year’s resolutions. From within this group, some of those resolutions will be more serious than others. I’ve pondered how some of those resolutions become life altering decisions. In most cases, I believe those changes will all come down to the amount of resolve that is applied by the individual making that resolution..

It then occurred to me that the words resolve and resolution are basically synonymous with each other. Okay, I also know that some of you reading this are saying, “Well duh.” But please hear me out. I went to the thesaurus and checked it out. Besides the obvious correlations between the words resolution and resolve there are some other observable similarities.

I noticed the list of synonyms for each word used a number duplicates. This list is interesting and includes the words: boldness, courage, decidedness, decision, determined, purposefulness, settle, steadfastness, tenacity, and willpower. When those words occur in the Bible they convey a lot of meaning.

That gets one to start thinking about the origins of the tradition itself. Could there be a relationship between a New Year’s resolution and the practice of giving up something for Lent? Low and behold the practice does have religious origins. A quick search in Wikipedia reads:

Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.[2]

The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.[3]

In the Medieval era, the knights took the ‘peacock vow’ at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.[4]

At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.[5]

This tradition has many other religious parallels. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People can act similarly during the Christian liturgical season of Lent, although the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. In fact, the practice of New Year’s resolutions came, in part, from the Lenten sacrifices.[5] The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.”

References:

  1.  “New Year(‘s) resolution”. Retrieved 2013-04-06.
  2. Jump up^ Lennox, Doug (2007). Now You Know Big Book of Answers one of the amazing thing. Toronto: Dundurn. p. 250. ISBN 1-55002-741-7.
  3. Jump up^ Julia Jasmine (1998). Multicultural Holidays. Teacher Created Resources. p. 116. ISBN 1-55734-615-1.
  4. Jump up^ Lennox, Doug (2007). Now You Know Big Book of Answers. Toronto: Dundurn. p. 250. ISBN 1-55002-741-7.
  5. Jump up to:a b James Ewing Ritchie (1870). The Religious Life of London. Tinsley Brothers. Retrieved 2011-12-28. At A WATCH-NIGHT SERVICE: Methodism has one special institution. Its love feasts are old-old as Apostolic times. Its class meetings are the confessional in its simplest and most unobjectionable type, but in the institution of the watch-night it boldly struck out a new path for itself. In publicly setting apart the last fleeting moments of the old year and the first of the new to penitence, and special prayer, and stirring appeal, and fresh resolve, it has set an example which other sects are preparing to follow.  

Mankind, it seems, has been making resolutions for a long time. It also appears to indeed have religious connotations. Regardless of how anyone feels about participating in the practice of making a New Year’s resolution themselves, there is something in the idea of a resolution and of resolve that all Christians should consider.

As one watches world events unfold and sees the direction they are moving, it is hardly a wonder that many people don’t believe it can continue on like this for much longer. What are believers supposed to be doing during times like these?

There are at least two specific answers to that question. First of all, Christians need to be praying. I think this needs repeating with emphasis. Christians need to be PRAYING. Second, there is no time like the present to address the problems, of unbelief and evil times, as faithful apologists. Believers have a duty to defend our faith and present the good news of the Gospel to a lost and confused world. Any day may be the last one for trying to change the direction of someone’s life, much like those serious New Year’s resolutions can.

Furthermore, as Christians our resolve should be to change hearts and minds, before it’s too late. After all that is what we are called upon to do, and that is precisely what the Ambassadorships program is designed to help with.

A New Year’s Resolution Anyone?

Brad

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