{What does the Bible say?} New Year, New You

We have entered a new year, the year 2020, and as the clock struck midnight on Tuesday night we looked into this new era, this new decade, with hope and anticipation. We were leaving all the mess and despair of 2019 behind, all the disappointments and trials and here we were with a clean slate, a new leaf! Oh how 2020 was going to be our year!


But then we woke up, a little dishevelled, on January 1st and we realised - we were still here. I am still me, you are still you, and despite our best efforts with our new year's resolutions (find out here why I love making them, by the way), as our enthusiasm wanes, we come to the realisation that actually, change doesn't just magically happen at the stroke of midnight. Unfortunate, no?

Oh how I wish that were the case! I would wake up fresh faced and wide eyed (an hour before everyone else, of course), I would gracefully jump out of bed looking like a Disney Princess, I would have lost my Christmas weight effortlessly, but I would pull on my running shoes anyway because my goal is fitness and strength over weight loss. I would run right past Starbucks without so much of the temptation of entering, and I would come home and have the most amazing, fun family day, without spending any money. I wouldn't even yell at my kids - at all! I would check my bank balance and by some sort of magic, I would suddenly feel financially stable, and then later that day, after cooking my kids a nutritious meal, I would go on a date night because, you know, got to invest in my smiley, happy marriage. Oh, how wonderful life would be!

But then the magic fades. And I might keep it up for like, a day, if that.

All our hopes of being 'better' - better with money, better with food, better with exercise, a better parent, a better spouse, a better friend - are dashed in an instant the minute we fail and once again all seems hopeless. And we tell ourselves, "we will never...". We will never get on top of our finances, we will never lose the weight, we will never have the time.

So how does change come?

How do we improve ourselves, as we clearly have such a desire to do, without striving for the impossible and becoming discouraged?

The answer (as with most things) lies in Jesus.

First of all, I want you to know, in the words of Bruno Mars, you are amazing, just the way you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, you were knit together by God in your mother's womb (Psalm 139) and God knew you before the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 1:4-5). In the same way that I love my children, no matter what mess they make, God loves you. He doesn't want you to be anything except yourself, for He made you!

Isn't that freeing?! 

But what about all the rubbish?

Whilst God loves you just the way you are, he doesn't want to leave you that way - He came so that you could have life, and life in abundance (John 10:10). That doesn't mean you must strive and toil, trying to change. He wants to take all that rubbish and get rid of it for you. He wants you to live as He sees you. If you have accepted the gift of of Jesus - the greatest Christmas gift ever, might I add - then you have Jesus living on the inside of you (2 Cor 13:5). God looks at you, and sees Jesus. You are the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21). That is the gift of Grace! 

And when you accept that gift of Grace, you leave the old you behind and you become the new you (the born again you - 2 Cor 5:17). And then all of a sudden your life looks different! You start to grow in the fruits of the spirit (self-control, anyone? Gal 5:22-23) and those old things that were weighing you down, become non-issues!

And so, you can enter this new year, fully you, confidently you, but with a hope for the future that does not lie in your own strength or your own efforts, but in the grace freely given and paid for by Jesus, and all the things that then opens up to you. 

Yes, there is a place for exercising wisdom and yes, this is a process, it doesn't happen overnight, but Jesus Christ is not in the business of behaviour modification, he is in the business of heart transformation (that one's a Christine Caine truth, in case you're wondering!). Our goal should always be heart transformation.

So that just leaves me to say, relax. And I pray every blessing over you for 2020 - He knows the plans He has for you, and they are plans for good, and not for evil, plans for a future and a hope (Jer 29:11). Happy new year!

PS: I know that there is SO MUCH to unpack in this post, and it probably deserves a book. If you're feeling like you don't really 'get it', or you're a bit overwhelmed, how about taking just one of the Bible verses mentioned and really dig into it, pray over it and try to work out what it means for your life? And shoot me any questions - I don't promise to have the answers, but maybe we can find them together. :)


Photo by Simon Infanger on Unsplash

5 comments:

  1. Great post, Emily! So encouraging for me, as I too enter each new year with resolutions galore and a desire to 'change'. Great reminder to submit ourselves fully to God! Xx

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    1. Thanks, Lucy! So freeing when we think more like this (though I too need the reminder!)

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  2. ”He doesn't want you to be anything except yourself, for He made you!” I love that thought, that He loves us so much we can just be ourselves and not worry about disappointing Him. What an incredible gift that when we give our lives to Jesus, the Holy Spirit helps us live in obedience to Christ so we may become more like Him!
    “God looks at you, and sees Jesus.” What a wonderful statement, Lucy!

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    Replies
    1. I’m sorry, for my senior moment in attributing the quote to Lucy, but then, you are both thoughtful writers!

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    2. Haha, no problem at all, what a compliment! :)

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