As I was watching New Year’s Eve celebrations across time zones, I was struck by the continual spiraling down of the world’s approach to the New Year. I was reminded of Jesus’s words, “As in the days of Noah.” The contrast of the two calendars in terms of the approach of the people of the world and the people of God is telling. The Jewish calendar begins with, “Rosh Hashanah,” which means, “head of the year” in Hebrew. The two-day holiday is considered a time to reflect and repent in anticipation of the coming year versus the revelry and merriment displayed in most of the world at the New Year. The time of introspection according to the Hebrew calendar, Tishri, has a different spirit. It brings to mind God’s time in contrast to man’s.
In this post, I want to address the attitudinal approach, not the issue of the two calendars. Although the Church’s lack of celebrating the Feasts, which mark God’s calendar, is lamentable. I want to address our attitude toward our plans and strategies. Our labor in this could be called dead works: labor done in vain.
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and about the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.Hebrews 6:1-3 NASB
The beginning of the Hebrew year calls for introspection and repentance, which are elementary principles and foundations for maturity. It is receiving, without condemnation, the truth brought to us by the Holy Ghost. Our thoughts that are not His and seeing where we went our way and not His — these produced dead works in the year. The saying that is often used, “How is that working for you?” minimizes sin and repentance. Sins cannot be called just “mistakes.”
In dealing with situations put before me, minimizing missing the mark and continuing to go our own way, rather than receiving correction, is labeled judgmental. Only in this course correction will enable us to go on into maturity, which can only be done in repentance.
All the New Year celebrations, good intentions, resolutions, and our will, cannot produce a happy New Year. So many resolutions and good intentions are verbalized yet lack a repentant attitude, which keeps us from pressing on to maturity.
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.“ ”For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.2 Corinthians 7:10-11 NASB
The contrast of godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world is night and day, life and death, maturity and immaturity. Paul refers to them as points of reference:
For [you can look back and] see what an earnestness and authentic concern this godly sorrow has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves [against charges that you tolerate sin], what indignation [at sin], what fear [of offending God], what longing [for righteousness and justice], what passion [to do what is right], what readiness to punish [those who sin and those who tolerate sin]! At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in the matter.“2 Corinthians 7:11 AMP
Paul tells them to look back, to see what true repentance and godly sorrow have produced in us. Vindication, free from accusation, indignation at sin, fear of the Lord, not offending Him, longing for righteousness and justice, a passion for doing right — not just being right, readiness to call ourselves and one another into account, not tolerating sin. He goes on to say that in every one of these points they have proved to be innocent. One free from guilt or harm. I am not saying whatsoever that I am innocent in any of these points, only that I see my lack of maturity and a desire to press on to turn from that which hinders me in my relationship to Jesus and His Body.
There is no Happy New Year without our repentance and renewed faith toward God.
Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB
In closing, be sure that as you look into your heart with introspection, you finish by looking up and only to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. He has made a way for us to continually be made new.
Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!