New Year’s Resolution & the New Commandment

For some people the New Year begins with making resolutions as to changes one intends to do in the coming year.  For Christians we are given the opportunity to renew our commitment to Christ, to obey His most basic commandment.

“The commandments to love God and neighbor are found in the law of Moses. They are not commandments for God’s people. They are the commandments ‘written on men’s hearts‘ and given ‘by nature’ itself (Rom 2.14–15). They are the commandments given by God, in His Words, to man ‘from the beginning‘ (1 Jn 2.7).

In the new covenant Church of Christ, however, there is a ‘new commandment’ (1 Jn 2.8). It is the ‘new commandment‘ given by Jesus Himself to those who believe in Him.

A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (Jn 13.34).

The new element in this ‘new commandment‘ is not the teaching of love, for this was written in the law. The new element is that believers in Christ must love as Christ Himself loves. The new commandment is to love ‘as I have loved you.’

Christian love must be the perfect love of Christ Himself which is wholly divine. Christian love must be the totally self-emptying love of the Lord Himself. It must be the divine love of God the Father poured into men’s hearts by the very Spirit of God. It must be the love that is absolutely faithful, perfect, eternal and divine.”  (Fr. Thomas Hopko, The Orthodox Faith Vol. IV: Spirituality, pp. 101-102)

 

Greeting the New Year: St. Tikhon of Moscow

“I greet you, brethren, with the arrival of the New Year. Almost every one of us associates the meeting of the New Year with the expectation of something new. And may God bless our heart if this expectation is the thirst for the renewal of our inner being, if with this hope we encourage ourselves in the rejection of the old person! But if it is not these most noble aspirations, but simply the desire for novelty and variety that guides us in the moment the New Year arrives, then may we recall that it is not the symbolic change of time that renews the flow of our lives, but it is because of the Lord that the footsteps of man become redirected, and the new in our life depends on the will of the eternal God.”  (St. Tikhon of Moscow: Instructions and Teachings for the American Orthodox Faithful (1898-1907), Kindle Loc 2291-2296)