"He will save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
In a couple days the year will end and a new year will begin. Just as the earth spins on its axis and circles the sun, we find ourselves living in cycles. Engaging in our basic routines of daily existence, we sleep, wake, eat, work, eat and sleep again. Then there are the habits -- repeated behaviors that have little to do with the earth's rotations or the moon's phases. Everyone has them; some are good, many not so good. And each year about this time we begin to think about our bad habits and how we can break these cycles. So we resolve: do less of this, more of that; eat less of this, more of that. We set our minds to make changes that will better our lives, our relationships and our consciences. It all lasts for a few days, maybe even weeks. Most of us can't keep the promises we make to ourselves more than a month.
Sin is a cycle, too. Worse than a bad habit, sin is a disease. The inner compass of our souls has been altered and we find ourselves living in ways that hurt us and others. We do things that are wrong because there is something gone wrong inside of us. Our sins reveal our sin. We find ourselves caught in patterns that separate us from God and contaminate our relationships with each other. But sin cannot be corrected by New Year's resolutions or overcome by personal determination any more than the earth can change it's own course.
That's why Jesus came to be with us and be one of us. He came to interrupt the death spiral of our existence, to catapult us into a new orbit centered on God instead of self. He is our hope for change and our help for healing. Jesus came to save us from our sins -- that's what His name means. He is the one New Year's resolution you really need because the promises you make you'll likely break. But His promises are good all year long.