HAPPY NEW JANUARY
In Roman mythology there was a god who was the guardian of doorways, who had two faces on his head, and could look backward and forward simultaneously. He was the patron of beginnings and endings, and in 46 B.C. Roman emperor Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar and gave the first month of the year his name: Janus.
Janus’ month has always been a time of endings and beginnings, when we have the feeling of making a fresh start on a clean slate. But in Christianity, we are to only look forward and not back. Jesus said in Luke 9:62, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Too often, we are looking back at our successes and our failures and it hinder us on reaching our goal in Jesus. Sometimes we drag around our guilt like a sack of seed and we get very little plowing done!
Paul said in Philippians 3:10-14 “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
It never hurts for us to realize that we have yet to take hold of everything that God brings to us in Jesus. Yet we all have learned that the Christian life is a life that does involve “straining” towards what is ahead. We know the rewards of what is ahead: eternal life with God. We want to win that prize. We know that whatever life brings us will be worth it as long as we have the prize in the end.
But we can’t press on while we are looking back. Paul says to forget what is behind. That is the wonderful newness that God offers to us. We not only have a new year, a new month, a new week, a new day, a new hour, a new moment, a new second all at once. We have a new hope and we have a goal.
There is something we can do with what is behind: Learn from it. We can learn from our failures and successes but we can also learn from the failures and successes of those before. After teaching us about the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, the writer goes on in 12:1-3, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
After we have considered the faith of all those heroes, consider what Jesus has done for you on the cross, giving you that hope of eternal life. Get rid of anything in life that hinders you. Let Him cleanse you of your sin and then let go of that sin. The race has been marked out. We know the way we are to go. Run with perseverance. Jesus is waiting for us at the goal. Fix your eyes on Him. And if you listen with your heart, you can hear those who have gone before cheering you on!
One thing about Janus…he was two-faced. We’ve only got one so we need to point it towards heaven and never turn it around. Then in the end we will know as Paul did in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.”