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New Year's guilt

Ken Frank
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How are you doing with your New Year's resolutions?  Are you determinedly following through on your personal commitment to improve your appearance or your behavior?  Or, are you feeling guilty because you are behind schedule?  Maybe you haven't even started them yet.  One of my favorite TV shows is CBS News Sunday Morning.  Last Sunday's show had a brief segment about human guilt – why we feel guilty.  This report explained that one of the things making people feel guilty most frequently at this time of year is failure to live up to New Year's resolutions.  First, let's discover what guilt is. 

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines it as:

1: the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty; broadly: guilty conduct

2a: the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously

b: feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy: self-reproach

3: a feeling of culpability for offenses (Emphases mine throughout).

But why do westerners go through this resolution ritual each year? Have you ever looked into its origin? And why do we begin our year just after winter begins?

The web site Answerbag.com for January 28, 2006 reported: "The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year. ... The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts." (http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/39353)

On December 23, 1996, U.S. News and World Report wrote: "In 46 B.C.E. the Roman emperor Julius Caesarfirst established January 1 as New Year's day. Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and had two faces, one looking forward and one back. Caesar felt that the month named after this god ("January") would be the appropriate "door" to the year. Caesar celebrated the first January 1 New Year by ordering the violent routing of revolutionary Jewish forces in the Galilee. Eyewitnesses say blood flowed in the streets. In later years, Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgies – a ritual they believed constituted a personal re-enacting of the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was ordered by the gods." (http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/NewYearsHistory.htm)

Now we know why the new year begins in winter, why it is celebrated with wild parties, why people wish each other good luck for the coming year and why people make New Year's resolutions.

Resolutions usually are made when people recognize they are not all they should be. Humans deal with their guilty consciences in various ways. Maybe you sense you are indeed guilty of offenses called "sins." If so, you need to turn from your sins to Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. This is called "repentance." Here is how the Statement of Beliefs of the Living Church of God describes repentance:

A vital step toward salvation is repentance of sin—repentance of transgressing God's law (1 John 3:4). As the New Testament Church began, Peter was inspired to command, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you…' (Acts 2:38). Since every human being has sinned (Romans 3:23), and the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23), each sinner must turn from breaking God's law, and be willing to obey His Maker through Christ living within him (Galatians 2:20).

If you seriously resolve to turn your life around, let me encourage you to begin studying the Bible with our free Bible Study Course. That would be one resolution worth keeping!

Here is our Bible Study Course web link: online.twbiblecourse.org