Does Your New Year’s Resolution
Align With Matthew 5 vs 16?

Introductory text:
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:14-16 (New King James Version).

Happy New Year 2023!

Congratulations, brothers and sisters in Christ! To God be the glory that we have lived to see a new year. Like a dream come true, 2022 has gone and 2023 has come. This is another testimony of God’s miraculous wonders upon our lives: how He established day and night (Genesis 1:5), declared the “first month of the year” (Exodus 12:2, Good News Bible), preserves us (Psalms 121; 41:2), and renews His mercies towards us every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

New Year, New Ways?

The beginning of a new year is often marked by the adoption of new ways of thinking and behaving or a commitment to continue on a certain path. The aim is usually to become more like who you desire to be. This practice is popularly referred to as a “New Year’s Resolution.” It is common in different parts of the world.

However, to some people, there is no need to do things differently or make any commitment to continue in a certain way because it is a new year. After all, the colour of the sky didn’t change from what it used to be, nor did snow start rising from the ground. To them, they are doing perfectly okay. Still, Apostle Paul warns that we should be careful about such thinking (1 Corinthians 10:12).

So, as Christians, just as every day requires a special commitment from us that we live more like Christ in a corrupt and sinful world (Philippians 2:1-15) through the help of the Holy Spirit, we should use every new year to the glory of God. Hence, 2023 should be another opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the Lord’s instructions, especially in Matthew 5:16, which says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Seven Ways to Let Your Light Shine

When the Lord Jesus gave us the command to be the light of the world (John 8:12; Matthew 5:14-16), He was not asking us to do it only in acknowledgement of a new year, but every day! That means, at all times, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to continue to transform us in different ways (Philippians 2:13), changing our minds and actions in line with the will of God for us (Romans 12:1-2).

There are so many ways we can shine in this world to give glory to God through our good works. Here are seven fundamental examples:

  1. Being loving and compassionate: We need to always show love to not only our family and friends but also to our enemies (Matthew 5:43-45). Christ loved us so much that he accepted to be born to die for our sins (John 3:16). Moreover, like fathers who have compassion on their children (Psalm 103:13), we need to be compassionate towards others, doing everything in love (1 Corinthians 16:14), including giving to the needy (Proverbs 19:17).
  1. Forgiving our offenders: God forgives us our trespasses (1 John 1:9) and expects us to forgive those who sin against us (Matthew 6:12-14; Hebrews 12:15). Besides, when we fail to forgive those who offend us, we allow bitterness to grow in our hearts and make us sin against others and God.
  1. Pursuing peace with everyone: In Matthew 5:9, the Lord Jesus teaches us that peacemakers are blessed, and they will be called the children of God. In whatever way we have not been living peacefully with our family, friends, church members, business associates, and neighbours, now is the time to resolve the conflict, settle everything amicably, and avoid future recurrences. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Taken from the New International Version).
  1. Studying the Bible and sharing the Gospel: In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we read that “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (Taken from the Revised Standard Version). The light of Christ in us can hardly shine to God’s glory if we do not have time to study the Bible and share the Gospel with others.

Yes, we may all have very busy schedules, yet we need to continuously learn from the Word of God (the Logos), using every opportunity we can. By doing so, we not only become wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15) but also develop the skills needed to share the Gospel and win more souls to God (Proverbs 11:30; John 15:16; Mark 16:15).

  1. Praying and interceding for others: Another way we can shine as lights in this world is to live a prayerful life, praying for ourselves and others even as the Holy Spirit helps us (Romans 8:26-27, 34). Hence, we choose not to worry about anything but take all things to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7). Also, interceding for others in prayers shows genuine love (Job 16:21; 1 Samuel 7:5, 12:23; 1 Kings 8:30; Psalm 122:6; Acts 12:5) and facilitates healing (James 5:13-16).

What is more, according to the Amplified Bible translation of 1 Timothy 2:1-6, Apostle Paul said, “First of all, then, I urge that petitions (specific requests), prayers, intercessions (prayers for others) and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all people, for [a] kings and all who are in [positions of] high authority, so that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This [kind of praying] is good and acceptable and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who [b] wishes all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge and recognition of the [divine] truth.”

  1. Desiring and using our spiritual gifts: In addition to striving for love, the Bible encourages us to desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1) and pray to be so empowered. What are they? According to 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, the gifts of the Spirit are:
  • Wisdom: Ability to give wise counsel in confusing situations (1 Kings 3:16-28; Matthew 22:23-46).
  • Knowledge: Ability to reveal Biblical understanding, provide truthful information, or demonstrate supernatural insight (John 4:5-29; Acts 4:8-13).
  • Faith: Ability to have evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1); displaying confidence in God’s capability to protect, provide, and answer prayers (Daniel 3:16-18; I Kings 18:20-40; Matthew 14:13-21).
  • Healing: Ability to produce emotional, physical, or spiritual restoration through touch, spoken words, or prayer for the sick (Mark 8:22-25; Mark 9:17-27; Acts 3:1-10).
  • Miracles: Ability to do what is naturally impossible, thereby demonstrating the ultimate power of God (Exodus 14:13-22; Daniel 3:16-28; John 2:1-11, 6:5-14; Acts 2:4, 5:15-16, 16:25-34; Matthew 14:28-31).
  • Prophecy: Ability to speak the truth to cause correction, lead people to repentance, or tell what is going to happen in the future (1 Samuel 10:10-11; Isaiah 7:14; Genesis 6:9-9:17; Matthew 26:21-22, 33-34; 24:14).
  • Discernment: Ability to clearly differentiate error or a false message from the truth, as well identify the kind of spirit in operation (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21; 1 Samuel 16:14-16; Acts 16:16-18).
  • Speaking in tongues: Ability to speak strange languages unknown to you for the purpose of spreading the Gospel to unbelievers, praying to God in worship, or for any other purposes as led by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 14:4, 22; Acts 19:6).
  • Interpretation of tongues: Ability to interpret what has been spoken in strange tongues so that others can understand the message (1 Corinthians 14:6, 27).

The Holy Spirit freely gives the above nine gifts and even more to us for the good of everyone in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7), manifesting His presence and reminding us of how much we need each other to grow. So, if you have any of these gifts, whether by Divine grace or in answer to your prayers, ensure to use them in the house of God and to His glorification.

  1. Serving in the house of God: The need to render services in the house of God cannot be overemphasised. It is one of the fundamental ways to let your light shine for the glory of God. The Bible encourages us to be servants and not masters over others (Matthew 23:11; Mark 10:45).

You do not necessarily have to become a pastor to serve in the house of the Lord. If you cannot be an usher, chorister, instrumentalist, Sunday school teacher, translator, Bible study coordinator, gospel blog writer, sound technician, or media team member, you can be an encourager like Barnabas by generously giving your attendance, time, money, intellectual resources, and other good things that God has blessed you with (Acts 4:36-37; Hebrews 10:25).

Besides, God never forgets your work or the help you render to his people (2 Kings 20:1-6; Hebrews 6:10). If you water others, you will be watered (Proverbs 11:25), and whoever gives receives even more (Luke 6:38).

No Better Resolution!

Your New Year’s Resolution for 2023 was probably to do more physical exercise, lose weight, increase your acts of love towards your spouse and family, stop procrastinating, get a scholarship, improve your academic performance, do your best to get a promotion at your workplace, and so on. They are good and commendable! But they can all come to nothing without spiritual resolutions that bring glory to our Father in heaven.

Now is the time for us to check our decisions concerning the new year and see whether they align with all that we have discussed about Matthew 5:16. In essence, are we daily looking forward to glorifying ourselves or our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Let it better be for the Lord!

May the grace, peace, and wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ be upon us all, in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Happy New Year, once again!

BY: Goodnews Israel Oshiogbele

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