I do not usually “do” the New Year’s resolutions “thing.” If you do, I respect that – but personally I do not see a point in waiting until then. It is, after all, just a holiday celebrating a calendar event! Being introspective and working on what needs fixing should be on-going as conversion itself is.
So many people are into resolutions that by now you may have seen some online lists. They can be interesting because (if for no other reason) they represent what their authors feel society should work on at the individual level.
The most sound advice on that point has been given before!
Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Jesus breaks this into two parts so that it is clear to us, but if we really understood the first part then the second part would already be apparent. At least at the intellectual level. In practice, we sometimes fail – at least I do – so it is good to be specifically reminded.
To that end, the best resolution list I have seen recently was a piece written by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur. Instead of suggesting that we loose weight, recycle more or stick to a budget (not bad things of themselves, but not the “big picture”) – Patrice gives practical advice on qualities necessary to fulfill the commandment of loving your neighbor:
Compassion means to suffer with someone – to be with him in his sorrow and to seek to alleviate it as much as it within our means to do so. Who do you know that is suffering – physically, spiritually, emotionally? What can you do to help? Can you offer assistance in some way? Perhaps there is no way to actually remove the source of suffering, but can you spend time with the person? Listen to them? Pray for them?
Kindness is a general goodwill towards others. Do you wish others good things, or do you get jealous when others lives seem to be better than yours? Do you indulge in gossip? Do you treat service people with respect? What about the homeless? Do you greet others with a smile?
Humility is to see ourselves as we are before God. It is to realize that we are totally dependent on God for all the blessings and gifts we have received. It also calls us to serve others. How can you better serve those you come in contact with?
Gentleness, sometimes known as meekness, goes together with kindness and humility. It calls us to be slow to anger. It also means to care about God and others more than we care about ourselves.
Patience means to be willing to wait, whether that be something as simple as waiting in line at the grocery store without complaint, or something more difficult, such as waiting for God to come through on a long time prayer request. How can you be more patient with the difficult situations you encounter in life? How can you make good use of those times when you must wait?
Forgiveness asks us to not hold another’s wrongs against them. We all make mistakes. We want God to forgive us. So, too, must we forgive others, even when it is hard – especially when it is hard. What wrongs are you still holding on to? Who do you need to forgive?
Love means wanting whatever is best for another person, even when it hurts you – it requires us to put other’s needs before our own. How can you better love the people in your life?
A good list of qualities to strive for that even anti-“New Year’s resolution” me can get behind!
Read the whole article Qualities to Work on for the New Year.