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New Year, New Attitude...

Updated: Jan 1

Do YOU make New Year's Resolutions? Millions of people still do.

According to a survey by The Daily Telegraph, the Top 5 New Year Resolutions are as follows:

  1. Lose weight

  2. Exercise more

  3. Eat more healthily

  4. Spend less time on Social Media

  5. Take up a new hobby

We tell ourselves, "This year, I will turn over a new leaf.”

But then, quite often, it all gets forgotten by the middle of January.

I have found people in churches somewhat sniffy about New Year’s Resolutions. If I ask a congregation whether they’ve made any, hardly any hands will be raised.

But more than that, many appear directly opposed to the very idea of such a thing.

I’ve never understood why. Is it evidence of a lack of faith in God’s guidance? I hope not. I think there is great value in having something to aim for as we begin a new year.

Some may steer clear of making New Year Resolutions because of their high failure rate.

Maybe Christians avoid resolutions rather than feel they are letting God down by completely failing to keep them.

So, how about a New Year's resolution for 2024 that’s actually doable? Something we can change rather than something we can’t.

How about we resolve to go into 2024 with a new attitude? What do I mean? Let’s break down into three specific areas of our lives.

1. Let’s develop a new attitude to life

How do you feel about your life? Are you happy? Really?

A few verses tucked away in Philippians Chapter 3 are a real help in this. But before we get to the actual verses, please be aware that Paul is in prison, chained to a Roman guard, under horrible conditions. But despite that, he writes this:

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

What is Paul trying to communicate here? What is he reaching for? What is his goal?

Paul's goal is Jesus. Look at what he says back in verse 10

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him…

The world around us says that the way to feel good about ourselves is by climbing the ladder of success. Or by making a lot of money or by having loads of friends

But the Bible teaches us how to feel good about ourselves is to know that God loves us.

If we knew and understood God's depth of love for each of us, then we’d all feel so much better about ourselves. If you don’t come to know anything more about God in 2024, know that he loves you with a deep, abiding and unshakeable love.

It’s the necessary first step to feeling better about yourself and having a better outlook and attitude in 2024.

2. Let’s develop a new attitude to other people

The American writer Robert Schuller once wrote,

"It would amaze us how many people we could influence for Christ if we would just treat people nicely."

I think he is right.

This is a complex world that doesn't always exercise courtesy.

Sometimes, it's a dog-eat-dog world.

But the church should be a place where we all can come and be accepted, loved, encouraged and built up. A place where there are people to help us carry our burdens and everyone feels welcome.

But often it isn’t.

If we treat each other with love—the love that God has for us—then amazing things will happen in our relationships, friendships and families.

How about we make 2024 the year we display the right attitude toward others?

In Ephesians 4:15, Paul tells us that we need to speak the truth in love.  Yes, we need to speak the truth—but we also need to be sure that we are speaking it in love.

So, I ask each of us to pause for a moment and think back over some of the things we have said this past year, this past month, and maybe even this past week.

Have you hurt someone by what you said or how you said it? And what will you do about it to make it right in the life of the person you have hurt?

Let’s make 2024 the year when we have a new attitude towards others.

3. Let’s develop a new attitude to God’s people

There was a story a few years ago about a Vicar in Wiltshire who wrote a letter to his congregation.

Nothing unusual in that, you might say—but this was no ordinary letter. He wrote this:

The Sunday morning worship here is neither warm nor welcoming. It does not show love, joy or peace. Rather, it is characterised by grumbling, gossip, and disunity. Criticism and negativism are the predominant behaviour of too many church members. Some people, through their actions, are actively sabotaging the ministry of this church.

Wow! He didn’t hold back, did he? It made the national newspapers in the UK, such was the pushback and the outrage from shocked churchgoers.

The errant vicar was quickly placed on leave by the Bishop—and the last I heard, he was looking for a new parish.

Listen – the church isn’t perfect; it never will be this side of heaven. If you think YOUR church is perfect, then your best course of action is probably to leave immediately—you’ll only ruin it.

But it’s the best we have right now.

The question then becomes: How can we make it better?

Will the church be better if I stay home on Sundays as some have done? Not at all. How can that make the church better?

In 1 Corinthians 12, St Paul compares the church to a body. He writes

God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others. If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honoured, the whole body will be happy.

What that is telling is that everyone in the church needs everyone else in this church.

When a person leaves or “takes their bat home”, to coin a phrase, it’s like losing an arm or a leg—and nobody wants that!

So, let’s start 2024 with a new attitude towards the church. An attitude that says we all matter and we are all part of this journey that we are on

There will be challenges ahead—there always are—which is all the more reason to stick together.

So perhaps our New Year resolution this year could be to develop a new attitude.

Nobody would say it will be easy—and there’ll be plenty of times when we stumble or mess up. That’s the nature of being human beings in an imperfect world.

But if we—as St Paul suggests—keep pressing on,  we will get closer and closer to the goal of being like Jesus.

And that’s a New Year's Resolution that’s worth sticking with.


This post was adapted from my sermon at Marske Methodist Church on December 31st 2023.


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