A Fresh Start — But Not Just for Me
As our Gospel Blog writers enjoy a few weeks of well-deserved vacation, we’re going to devote the next three weeks to some articles from our archives which focus on three different themes. This week’s articles will focus on the New Year, next week’s articles will be on forgiveness, and the following week will be about prayer. Today's article was originally published on Jan. 8, 2014.
At New Year's, we often evaluate ourselves based on how many pounds we weigh, how much money we make, our marital status, or the possessions we own. What if our biggest priority was to evaluate ourselves based on our relationships with other people?
In 3 Nephi 11:30, Jesus says, "Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away."
When I sit down for some much-needed New Year's self-evaluation, I can't avoid asking myself hard questions:
- Did I provoke anyone to anger on purpose?
- Did I knowingly spread gossip?
- Did I stir the pot in my branch or my family or my workplace?
- Did I say something to prejudice someone against someone else?
- Do I use inflammatory words?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, that means I have relationships to mend. Before I focus on implementing a weight-loss regimen or planning for a promotion, I should go to these people and ask for a fresh start.
New Year's is a great excuse to ask for a fresh start. "We're heading into a new year, and I really want to make things right between us." "I know I haven't treated you very well in the past, and I'm committed to changing that this year."
Maybe the shoe is on the other foot — maybe someone has asked you for a fresh start, and you haven't allowed it yet. I reflect on my own life and ask myself, "Is someone seeking to repair a relationship with me? Is someone reaching out to me? Does someone need my acceptance and love?" Just because they haven't come right out and verbally asked me doesn't mean they haven't asked me a bunch of times in roundabout ways.
In 3 Nephi, Jesus said that His doctrine doesn't produce an angry heart. A few verses later, He says what His doctrine is all about: "ye must repent […] and become as a little child" (verse 38). I know I need to do that in my own life. How about you?
But wait a minute. What about those stubborn people who don't deserve a fresh start? What about the people who have abused me? Who have ignored me? There are a few people who I frankly don't want a good relationship with.
Well, all I can ask myself at this point is, "Do I want to be like Jesus or not?" Jesus gave me a fresh start when I didn't deserve one. He kept loving me even when I abused that love. He remembered to bless me even when I ignored Him. He never didn't want me. My righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and I need to crawl into His arms like a little child and repent.
If I want to be more like Jesus in the new year, I need to think about this. If I'm a grateful recipient of God's grace, why can't I extend that same grace to others?
More than wanting to be skinny or wanting to make more money or wanting to elevate my status of living, I want to love God by loving my neighbors, my family, and my brothers and sisters in Christ.
It seems like a really hard thing to do. But remember what God asked Jeremiah, "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?" (Jeremiah 23:23). I don't have to do it alone. Jesus is right there to help me — and you, too!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.