Although in one sense the first day of the new year is no more to God than any other day, yet He often puts into the hearts of His children at that time a desire to begin the new year with new resolves— perhaps with plans to carry out some worthy enterprise—and with purposes to depart from the wrongs of the old year and to live the new year with new determinations.
In God’s plan for His ancient people, He gave the command, “On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle.” We have no tabernacle to set up as had the children of Israel, but we have a work of building to do, the importance of which all need to understand. Let us remember that character is not the result of accident, but day by day it is forming for good or for evil. Great importance attaches to this work of character building; for it is far-reaching in its results. We are builders for time and for eternity. Few realize the power of habit. Examine your own heart and life in the light of God’s Word, and ask yourself, “What has my record been for the year that is just closing? What advancement have I made in the Christian life? What victories have I gained? And what have I done to help others, and to lead them to Christ?”
God has not placed you in the world to lead an aimless life. He designs that you should be useful, and reach a high standard of moral excellence. To each one some work is given. During the old year have you performed your appointed tasks with cheerfulness and fidelity, having an eye single to the glory of God? Opportunities and privileges have been granted you; what use have you made of these gifts entrusted to you by our Heavenly Father? Have you made yourself a blessing to those around you? Have you done what you could to make them happy and win them to Christ?
All this is a part of your appointed work. God also requires each of us to subdue self, not giving the rein to self-indulgence or appetite, and to form characters that will stand the test of the judgment and go with us into the future life.
Shall the close of the year find you further advanced than you are today? Will you put away evil habits? Will you be considerate of others, faithful to do the work of a Christian? If you will carry the principles of right-doing into all the affairs of life, you will find that it will promote health of body, peace of mind, and prosperity of soul. You will have a strength, dignity, and sweetness of character that will have a transforming influence upon others.
OPPORTUNITIES AND PRIVILEGES HAVE BEEN GRANTED YOU; WHAT USE HAVE YOU MADE OF THESE GIFTS ENTRUSTED TO YOU BY OUR HEAVENLY FATHER?
We are now entering upon a new year, and may it prove a beginning of years to us. If in the old year we have made failures, let us commence the new by rectifying these errors as far as we can. If the old year has borne into eternity a spotted record of opportunities neglected and privileges slighted, let us see that that of the new year is free from these blemishes. Its days are all before us; let us begin now to make the history of each as it passes, such as we shall not tremble to meet in the judgment. Let us fill each one full of loving, helpful work for others. Let us develop all our powers, and make of ourselves all that God designed that we should.
In the keeping of God’s commandments there is great reward. A reward awaits the overcomer in the great day, when he shall hear from the lips of our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant”; and there is also a present reward in the peace and happiness that flow from the conscience at rest, from the sweet assurance that we enjoy the favour of God. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” To all who walk in His ways the new year will be crowded with goodness and blessing.
Ellen G. White, Australian Union Conference Record (AUCR, January 5, 1914).