Know what? I think the New Year is more of a time to remember than it is to make a list of resolutions. Many times the Old Year goes out with a big bang and the New Year comes in with regrets — regrets that cause a person to set a high, unreachable bar.
It’s not enough to make a list of negative resolutions for the beginning of a new year. The “quits” and “do nots” will guide a person for a little while, but the resolve soon weakens and the things we didn’t want to do are reactivated. We learn and we are reminded of things that have been the fabric of our lives and form the basis for later decisions. Through life, we accumulate reminders that keep us going in the right direction.
The Israelites were human too and, like us, they would forget. But God had instructed them to set up reminders along the way.
The first was the 12 stones taken from the Jordan River erected at Gilgal to witness to the miracle of Jordan dividing.
The second time, it was to remind them they couldn’t sin and get by with the stones covering Achan.
Third, a pile of stones signified a victory the Lord gave to the Israelites over Ai.
A stone altar on Mount Ebal inscribed with the name of Moses was the fourth reminder.
Another victory, this time over the Amorites, was marked by a fifth pile of rocks.
The sixth witness was a stone altar built to the unity of spirit and purpose on the east and west sides of the Jordan River.
And in Joshua 24:26, Joshua “took a great stone and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.” This was a witness to the covenant between God and Israel. God did not want Israel to forget the milestones in her history.
In Joshua 4:6-7, they were told why. “That this may be sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?” Then ... “ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.”
What kind of reminders do you have in your life? What answers are you leaving for your children?
On my trip to the Middle East in 2001, I noticed piles of stones still being used as markers. As we drove up the King’s Highway, I would see pillars standing silhouetted against the sky, probably marking someone’s journey. In that country of sameness, I would think it would be hard to find directions if there weren’t some kind of marker for guidance.
It’s hard, too, to find direction in our spiritual journey. The markers are reminders of where we came from, what we were and where we’re going — “Remind me, dear Lord ...”
“It’s not enough for us to cease to do evil — we must learn to do well,” wrote Matthew Henry.
The Christian who is living and walking in the Spirit will not only cease to do evil — he will also manifest godly fruit. It goes beyond a New Year’s resolution. It is not a temporary solution — it’s a lifestyle.
That’s not all there is to it. A Christian is not supposed to be “a person who does no wrong, but is no earthly good.” The fruit of the Spirit will naturally follow when one walks with Christ. You can’t just pretend “fruit of the Spirit” — it comes from a life submitted to Jesus Christ.
Considering all this, wouldn’t the best resolution for the year 2014 be: “For all the law if fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:14).