- - Saturday, January 2, 2021

The New Year is upon us, and it is a time of resolutions.  

All of us will make them.  

Some of us will resolve to lose weight. Others will resolve to eat healthier. Many will resolve to stop smoking. Tens of thousands of us will resolve to exercise more. Millions will pledge to spend more time with family, do more reading, spend less time online, finish that long-overdue college degree, attend church more frequently, or maybe even get more involved in serving others in our community. 

But the fact of the matter is this: All of us will make either one resolution or more to do better things and become better people in the days ahead, or, as Benjamin Franklin succinctly put it, to “let [the] New Year find [us] a better man.” 

G.K. Chesterton once said, “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul … Unless a particular man [makes] New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions [at all]. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” 



Whether we recognize it at first blush or not, Franklin, Chesterton and the hundreds of millions of us who agree with their sentiments are acknowledging something very old, very traditional and very “Christian” by our Auld Lang Syne traditions. The core assumption of our annual resolutions and those of the Gospel are, frankly, nearly the same: We all know that we need to change.   

In other words, there’s a Biblical assumption at the heart of how almost every American celebrates the New Year. It’s the assumption of repentance. It’s the assumption that we have done wrong and need to start doing right. Our resolve to make resolutions proves my point. None of us make “affirmations” on New Year’s Eve. Even in our “broke and woke” times, we simply don’t hear of people (at least not yet) “affirming” their smoking, their sedentary laziness, their selfishness or their obesity as they usher in a new year.

No. On the contrary, what we hear from millions of revelers from Times Square to Tulsa is the exact opposite. We hear their promises to do better, to be better, to change for the good.

Why is that? 

Well, the reason is pretty clear. All of us know deep down in our heart of hearts (unless that heart has grown stone-cold from sin) that we are not who we should be and who God created us to be. We all know that we need to “start afresh about things” and that the “New Year needs to find us a better man.” Essentially, we all intuitively understand the words of Christ and subsequently from His apostle, Paul: 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God …” 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come …” 

In other words, the shallow slogans of Hollywood and the Beltway prove to be, well, shallow. Raising a glass at the stroke of midnight and “affirming” all your vices because you were “born that way” doesn’t seem to smack of much moral clarity or courage for 2021, does it. 

In his classic work “Mere Christianity,” C.S. Lewis says, “And now we begin to see what it is that the New Testament is always talking about. It talks about … ‘being born again …’” 

In these few simple words, Lewis summarizes what it means to become something and someone better, for the old to pass away — to be transformed — to be born again rather than be too easily satisfied with being born that way.

Maybe, as we all turn the calendar to 2021, all of us would do well to remember with Chesterton that “the object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul …”  

Maybe we’d be wise to take to heart his words once more: “Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” 

Maybe we’d do well to set aside all of our resolutions but one — the resolution to repent. 

Maybe if that be not our resolve, we “should make no resolutions at all.” 

• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery).

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