Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

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Written by Peter Langbroek
I'm sure you've heard it:Ó IÕve made a New Year's Resolution.Ó That's a hard word--resolution! I'm sure you know what it means. If your uncle has decided to stop smoking, your Mom is going to lose 20 pounds, and Dad is suddenly exercising, you have a good idea what it means.

When I teach, I always tell the kids to try to understand a hard word in its context. Read the sentences or paragraphs around a hard word, or listen well to how the person is using the word when he talks. You may be too young to know, but when you get older, you learn about parts of speech. I tell the students to figure out whether the word is a noun, pronoun, adverb, adjective, or verb. Resolution, by the way is a noun.

The next thing I stress (and bear with me, if you are not yet 10 years old) is to find the root word of the word, and if there are any, know the meaning of the prefixes and suffixes. Notice, the root word for resolution is "solve" and the prefix re- means "again." So, resolution means, "to solve again."

This, then, means that there is a problem to be solved in the New Year. What could that problem be? Could it be messiness, overeating, too much TV or too much time playing video games, a bad temper...? The list goes on. I would think most New Year's resolutions are good ones. Yet, I have learned that many times they don't last. Uncle starts smoking again. Mom is still overeating, and Dad doesn't get up early anymore to jog. I think it's because we need to re-learn that what needs to be resolved is deeper and more serious than all the bad habits we can have.

Let me tell you a Bible story to explain (Luke 19: 1-10). Zaccheus, the rich and chief tax collector, was determined to see Jesus. He had heard of Him, and now he knew He was coming to Jericho. Sure enough, there was a crowd entering Jericho. Jesus must be there, he thought, somewhere in the middle of that horde of people. Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus, but he was too short. Then, he had an idea.

He ran ahead of the crowd, saw a sycamore tree and climbed it to see Jesus. Looking down, he waited. The crowd moved closer. Yes, Zaccheus saw Him!

Then, to his surprise, Jesus started walking toward the tree. He came near it, looked up, and called him. "Zaccheus, hurry, and come down; for today I must stay at your house."

Zaccheus quickly climbed down and joyfully met Jesus.

The crowd saw what happened. There was silence followed by murmuring. "He's going to be the guest in the house of that sinner!" they said to one another.

Zaccheus heard it. He looked at Jesus and said in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-foldÓ (Luke 19:8). Then and there, Zaccheus made a resolution.

His resolution came from heart-felt sorrow for sin and the desire to honour God and love his neighbour. The Bible calls it repentance. That's another hard word. The root word means 'pain, sorrow, regret;' the prefix re-, in this case, means 'very much.' So, repentance means Òhaving much sorrow, pain, or regret'.Ó

In this story, Jesus came to Zaccheus and invited Himself to his house. He showed mercy to a man despised by his people. Zaccheus climbed down joyfully to meet Him. Zaccheus' resolution came from knowing that Jesus had received him, and from deep regret for how he had dishonoured God and sinned against his neighbour.

Jesus honoured Zaccheus' resolution. He turned to the crowd and said, "This day is salvation come to this house forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19: 9,10).

The New Year is as good a day as any day to make resolutions. Trust me, we have a real need to resolve many things in our lives. Yet, if our resolutions don't come from a true sorrow for sin they will likely fail, and we always do fail to honour God. Uncle may want to stop smoking, Mom may eat less, and Dad exercise more, simply because it's healthier and makes them feel good; not because bad habits are sins against God.

The story of Zaccheus shows us how God-honouring resolutions are made and can be kept. It shows us how Jesus shows grace to sinners. He looks for sinners, finds them, and calls them to know Him and embrace Him as Saviour and Lord.

This year, I urge you and myself to remember Zaccheus. God sent His Son to seek and to save those who are lost. Zaccheus was one of them. Are you?

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