A New Year with a New Outlook

In the few days before the Lunar Chinese New Year, the market was already packed with people early in the morning. In the evening supermarkets were overcrowded with people who came to buy goods in preparation for the coming new year. Big and small provision shops were also more crowded than usual with shoppers who were getting ready to usher in the new year in place of the old. Many were eager to usher in the new year as it offered a rare opportunity to catch up with friends and relatives. Moreover, the new year celebration also represented a change—forsaking the old and bringing in the new, with the hope that the new year ahead will be a better year. It is as we say, a new year brings in a new outlook!

Year after year, we celebrate the new year, hoping that the year ahead would be better than the year that has passed and that progress has been made.  For that, we had also worked hard and have perhaps achieved something. There are, perhaps, also some things that we desire but achieving it is simply beyond our abilities. There are some things on which we hope could be improved but we simply could not achieve it. There are also some things that are beyond our control. The tradition of purchasing and wearing new clothes and shoes allows us to appear new in the new year. However, a true new outlook starts from within us.

 Paul says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor 5:17). This is true newness in outlook. It refers not to a change in external matters or details but to a fundamental renewal. Such a change cannot be achieved on our own strength because we are sinners and have sinful nature. This is as Paul says: “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Rom 7:18-19). We could only depend on work of the Lord Jesus Christ that changes our life. Only then is real change possible so that the “old man” becomes a “new man.” The “old man” lives in sin and its life cannot please God. For that reason, his life cannot be blessed by God. This is aggravated by the fact that he will face the judgment due to sin. Due, however, to God’s mercy, the Lord Jesus took the punishment due to sin. As a result, all transgressions and sins are forgiven. Furthermore, we can depend on the resurrection life that Jesus gives to live a life that is victorious over sin. This is the life of a “new man” obtained by depending on Jesus.

The moment that Jesus gave us a new life, it began a new outlook. “The old has gone, the new is here.” This is for Christians a great comfort and a precious promise. Our failure, inadequacies, and weaknesses cannot stop us from becoming the “new man.” As a “new man” we have a bright spiritual hope. Even in the face of a big difficulty we can be confident of overcoming it. This is possible not because we are very capable, but because our Lord and the God on whom we depend is very capable. He is willing to give us grace.

However, we sometime still yearn for the life of the “old man.” This prevents us from experiencing the above-mentioned promise. If one does not cash out a $ 1 million cheque, that person has not experienced the benefits of the $ 1 million. In the same way, to experience the promise of the “new man,” in the words of Paul, “That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds (Eph 4:20-23).

May we in the new year, truly experience “a new year with a new outlook.” May you have a blessed new year.