Another year has almost passed into eternity. . . . Let us review the record of the year that so soon will be past. What advancement have we made in Christian experience? Our work—have we so done it that it will bear the inspection of the Master, who has given to every man work according to his several ability? Will it be consumed as hay, wood, and stubble, unworthy of preservation? or will it stand the trial by fire?
The need of fidelity is overlooked by many. There is a great deal to be done in this world— not in our way, but in God’s way—for the benefit of those for whom Christ has died; but if this is done negligently or imperfectly, “Wanting” will be written against our names in the book of heavenly records. God is not pleased with any work unless it is done in the very best way possible. Every provision has been made that we may attain a height of stature in Christ Jesus that will meet the divine standard. God is not pleased with His representatives if they are content to be dwarfs when they might grow up to the full stature of men and women in Christ. He wants you to have height and breadth in Christian experience. He wants you to have great thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, and lofty purposes of action. Every passing year should increase the soul’s yearning for purity and perfection of Christian character. . . .
If all who profess to be servants of Christ are faithful in that which is least, they will be faithful in much. If there are debts yet unpaid, make special efforts to pay them. If you have run up accounts at the provision store or with the dry goods merchant, settle them if you possibly can. If you cannot, go to those to whom you are indebted, and frankly tell them the impossibility of meeting these demands; renew your note, and assure them you will cancel the debt as soon as you can. Then deny yourselves of everything you can do without, and be very economical in your expenditures, until your promises are fulfilled. Do not indulge yourselves in the use of other men’s money for the sake of gratifying appetite or a love of display. You may thus remove a stumbling-block whereby many were hindered from believing the truth; and your good will not be evil spoken of. Will not our brethren make diligent efforts to correct this slack, haphazard way of doing business? The old year is fast passing; it is nearly gone. Make the most of the few days remaining.
The Chinese New Year commences in February, and lasts one week. They have a custom of settling all quarrels between themselves and all outstanding debts; and if there are any who are unable to pay their debts, they are forgiven them. Thus the new year is commenced with all difficulties and accounts settled. This is a heathen custom that the Christian world would do well to imitate. God’s law requires all this of us, and more—we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. That is, we are to deal with our neighbors in everything just as we would wish them to deal with us. If we wish them to act fairly and justly toward us, then we should act fairly and justly toward them. We are simply to do as we would be done by. . . .
If we have but little time, let us improve that little earnestly. The Bible assures us that we are in the great day of atonement. The typical day of atonement was a day when all Israel afflicted their souls before God, confessed their sins, and came before the Lord with contrition of soul, remorse for their sins, genuine repentance, and living faith in the atoning sacrifice. . . .
Let the remnant of this year be improved in destroying every fiber of the root of bitterness, burying them in the grave with the old year. Begin the new year with more tender regard, with deeper love, for every member of the Lord’s family. Press together. “United, we stand; divided, we fall.” Take a higher, nobler stand than you ever have before. . . .
The old year is in its death struggle; let all wrath, malice, and bitterness die with it. Through hearty confession, let your sins go beforehand to judgment. Devote the remaining moments of the swift passing year to humiliation of self rather than trying to humiliate your brethren. With the new year, commence the work of lifting them up—commence it even in the waning moments of the old year. Go to work anew, brethren and sisters—go to work earnestly, unselfishly, lovingly, striving to lift up the hands that hang down, to strengthen the feeble knees, remove the heavy burdens from every soul. Let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke. Bring to your homes the poor that are cast out. “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and the Lord shall say, Here I am.”. . .
This work of confession must be done sooner or later. Shall it not be done in the dying hours of the old year? Shall we not put away our sins by confession, and let them go beforehand to judgment? Shall we not strive now as we never have before, that we may commence the new year with a clean record? Shall we not individually take hold of this long neglected work, humbling our souls before God, that “pardon”—blessed pardon—may be written opposite our names? Shall we not be truly Christians—Christlike?
Try it in every church. Have special meetings when you can—meetings of humiliation, of afflicting the soul, meetings where the rubbish shall be cleared away from the door of the heart, that the blessed Saviour may enter. What a wonderful time the dying of the old year and the birth of the new might be! If we individually try to do what we can on our part, God is faithful that hath promised, and He will fulfill on His part abundantly more than you can ask or even think. Let no more moments be wasted. Let us now arise, and make earnest efforts to cherish the subduing love of Jesus. We need to be melted over, that the dross may be removed. We need to learn in Christ’s school meekness and lowliness of heart, drawing closer and closer to Jesus.