BY: JEFFREY H. SYPOLE
“When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’” ~ John 21:15
The book of Ecclesiastes teaches that in life, there is a time for everything. The writer lists things like mourning, weeping, dying, sorrow—but there is also a time for laughing, singing, and dancing. If we focus only on the sobering aspects, we overlook God’s joyful imperative. While life has its horrible moments, clearly God yearns for our happiness.
Psalm 8 points out that God has crowned us with glory and honor and given us power over the earth. But we cannot fail to notice that the psalm both opens and closes with emphasis on God’s sovereignty. Our glory and honor falls within the parameters of God’s oversight. Yes, the coming year will bring its share of hardship, sorrow, and failure. After all, there is a time for everything. But God has given us all creation, love, laughter, and meaningful work to fill our days. God desires that the tenor of our lives be that of joy, and that is where Jesus comes in.
Amid disappointment, loss, and defeat, Jesus has a wonderful way of restoring us when we fail Him! He does not humiliate us. He does not criticize us. He does not ask us to make a resolution to try harder. Rather, He takes us aside and asks us to reaffirm our love for Him.
Peter miserably failed his Lord when he fled with the other disciples from the Garden of Gethsemane. Later, he publicly denied that he even knew Jesus. Peter must have wondered if he had been capable of being Jesus’ disciple when he was unfaithful to Jesus in His most crucial hour. How many times have we felt like Peter?
As we begin a new year, we may be painfully aware that we have failed our Lord in many ways. Perhaps we were not faithful. Perhaps we disobeyed His word to us. Perhaps we denied Him by the way we lived. Jesus will take us aside, as He did Peter. He will not berate us. He will not humiliate us. He will though, ask us to examine our love for Him. One day He asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” If our answer, like Peter’s, is “Yes, Lord, I love you,” He will reaffirm His will for us. If we truly love Him, we will obey Him (John 14:15). Jesus does not need our resolutions, our recommitments, or our promises to try harder this year. If our resolve to obey God last year did not help us to be faithful, it will not make us successful this year. Jesus simply asks for our love. If we truly love Him, our service for Him in the New Year will be of the quality that He desires.
Resolutions is a tradition about resolving to adjust an undesired trait or character flaw, to accomplish a personal goal or improve one’s life in the coming New Year. Resolving to lose weight, eat better, exercise, save money, quit smoking, etc. are all good. But let’s put at the top of the list, and hopefully one that won’t be broken, to love Jesus more and give Him all our best thoughts and efforts, and in every situation always let the “Son” shine around us.
Happy New Year to my church family at Sunrise and all the Forsyth Family readers. May peace and goodwill abound in your home and in the world!