Pastor Dick Nichols
Cedar Creek Community Church
2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta
A new year is much like running a foot race. In order to begin a new one, we need to put the old one behind us, because we can only participate in one at a time.
New Year’s is the time we like to make resolutions that we hope will make our future much better than the past we just left. There are always things we know we can do better; or maybe things we shouldn’t do at all; or maybe there is something we need to change to help us be more at peace in our personal lives.
Most people. whether they go to church or not, know the “Golden Rule.” Let’s give it a try. Please complete the following sentence: “Do unto others as you __ __ __ __ __ __.” (Answer at bottom of article). This is a part of our American culture, yet many people have no idea that it came from Jesus’ teaching. Following it, though, is another story.
We read Jesus words in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (New International Version).
We each have our own circumstances in life, where we should apply the Golden Rule, but just to help us better understand the application, let’s look at just one illustration today: forgiveness. Jesus talks to us about forgiveness in Matthew’s gospel in chapter 6, verses 14-15: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (New International Version).
God is the God of relationships, and in order to begin a new year, we must first make peace with our past and the relationships that have been broken through a lack of forgiveness. Thank God that because of Jesus Christ and the fact that he is reaching out to us in love, whatever has happened to us in the past can be put behind us. If something happened to you in your youth or in your past or in some other relationship and it continues to hurt in your heart, then that resentment, that hurt, that brokenness is to some degree controlling your life, like a heavy burden that weighs you down.
The bible talks about how to get yesterday off your back. To paraphrase scripture, “forgive and you will be forgiven, if you don’t, you won’t.” In Romans 12:18-19, the apostle Paul wrote; “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘it is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (New International Version).
From this we can see the purpose of God’s command to forgive others. The burden of unforgiveness is like carrying a 50-pound bag of garbage around all of the time. January 1st is one day, like any other day of the year. When we resolve to do what we can to ease this burden on New Year’s day, and then carry that same resolve into the next day, and the next day, and the next etc., we will find the truth of God’s word.
Now, if we will apply this same principle to other circumstances in life, just think of what your future in following Jesus could hold. Part of this good news is that this golden rule can be applied starting today, and then again tomorrow and so on, and others did the same, can you even imagine what kind of world we might live in? May the peace of Jesus Christ dwell in you.
(Answer: fill in the blank: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”)