As I write this, another year is in the books! This year has gone by fast. It hasn’t been a particularly easy year for my family but God has been faithful and I have grown a lot as a result. As the year comes to a close I naturally find myself evaluating the past year and looking forward to the coming year and what I can do to improve on the previous year. This therefore begs the question, should I make a new year’s resolution? Is it even biblical?
I took the time to lookup the history of New Year’s resolutions at the wikipedia.org site. It points out a brief history of the religious origins of this practice. The practice of celebrating the new year and making resolutions for the new year go all the way back to ancient Babylon. The ancient Babylonians would make promises to their gods at the beginning of each year. The Romans also took up this practice by making promises to their god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.
January wasn’t the start of the Jewish Year
The celebration of January 1st as the start of the new year is a fairly recent phenomenon as far as the history of the world is concerned. January 1st gradually became recognized as the beginning of the next numerical year starting in 1582 with the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar. International recognition of January 1st as the next calendar year wasn’t universally recognized until 1918 when the Ottoman Empire finally accepted January 1st as the start of its year…
Of all the cultures in the world, one culture is most biblical. It’s the Jewish culture. For the Jews, they don’t have only one new year, they have several. The equivalent of January is used for counting the reigns of kings. The new year for fruit trees is the equivalent to February. The new year for moving the year forward isn’t in January, it varies from year to year but is generally around the month of September. Jews have a celebration at this time called Rosh Hashanah or Feast of Trumpets. For the Jews, as the new year approaches it isn’t so much a time of celebration as it is a time of introspection and repentance. 10 days later is Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.
Time for introspection…
The Jewish equivalents to the end of the year, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a time of introspection and evaluation. A time of making things right with God and with others. A time for soul searching and for making wrongs right. A time to evaluate what went well in the last year and what needs improvement.
I personally see a lot of wisdom in having a period of introspection once a year. Since most of the whole world recognizes January 1st as the time when one year gives way to another, I think it isn’t something we should ignore. Let’s take the time to evaluate our life and make some changes. This is especially true of our relationship with God. Am I spending as much time with Him as I should? Do I feel close to God? Am I doing everything He has asked of me?
We should also evaluate our earthly relationships. Are we holding a grudge towards others? Is there someone who has hurt us in some way that we haven’t forgiven? Have we done something that hurt another this past year? The beginning of a new year is a great time to make things right.
Happy New Year!