Supporting Cast: Why We Need to Be More Patient and Forgiving | Sojourners

Supporting Cast: Why We Need to Be More Patient and Forgiving

Most of the time, we should be saying "new year, same old me." marekuliasz/Shutterstock

I had the idea for this blog post a couple weeks ago, but I thought it best to wait until around this time to release it. Just two weeks into the new year, this is usually the stage in which people are slowly becoming less committed to their resolutions.  

I know there is much disdain for the phrase "new year, new me." We all have family and friends who commit themselves to something on January 1st, whether it be to exercise more, eat healthier, become a better Christian, etc., and just days into the new year they have already failed to live out those commitments. The phrase probably should be "new year, same old me." This post is not intended to stroke the ego of our skeptics, rather, Lord willing, it will serve as encouragement to those who strive to better themselves.  

Although we struggle to stay faithful to our new found endeavors, thankfully we serve a God who is both patient and forgiving. Psalm 86:15 states, "But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness."

As Christians we should seek to emulate these characteristics. We should want to be as patient and forgiving as God is. In that way we can encourage our brothers and sisters and hopefully help them to continue in their journey of changing their lives for the better.

Why do we look for our neighbor to fall, just so we can shake our heads in disappointment and say, "I told you so"? Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica telling them to encourage one another and to build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). And Proverbs 24:17 advises us as Christians, "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles."

We are called into a role of support. We should be delighted by the fact that people want to change and become better human beings.

We should do all we can to help them along the way for two reasons. The first is the biblical call to love our neighbors. The second is that helping others helps us. In our outreach we learn more about ourselves, create positive energy, and also feel better about ourselves and our community.  

The turn of a calendar year is a great chance to usher in a new direction in your life. But it is not the only time. Each day you wake up, you should feel like you have a clean slate. If you have failed to live up to your commitment yesterday, then today is the perfect day to recommit yourself. What others say or think about you should not matter. The reality is that most people want to see you fail to become a new person because they are still stuck in their own ways. Misery loves company.

Whether you proclaim the phrase to be "new year, new me"; "new month, new me"; "new week, new me"; "new day, new me"; or "new breath, new me," the same concept should be understood. In this life we are given many chances to get it right and we should always take advantage of those opportunities. Proverbs 24:16a states, "for the righteous fall seven times and rise again." Falling or coming up short does not make us a failure — staying down and not trying again does. No matter how many times in our lives we fail to have our actions match our intentions we should never allow this to discourage us from trying again and again because God is faithful in His promise to keep us. 

Ryan Herring is the Marketing and Circulation Assistant.

Photo: marekuliasz/Shutterstock

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