Category: What does the Bible say About


Some people today, especially those of anti-Christian opinions, have the mistaken notion that the Bible prescribes permanent racial divisions among men and is, therefore, the cause of modern racial hatreds. As a matter of fact, the Bible says nothing whatever about race. Neither the word nor the concept of different “races” is found in the Bible at all. As far as one can learn from a study of Scripture, the writers of the Bible did not even know there were distinct races of men, in the sense of black and yellow and white races, or Caucasian and Mongol and Negroid races, or any other such divisions.

The Biblical divisions among men are those of “tongues, families, nations, and lands” (Genesis 10:5,20,31) rather than races. The vision of the redeemed saints in heaven (Revelation 7:9) is one of “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues”, but no mention is made of “races”. The formation of the original divisions, after the Flood, was based on different languages (Genesis 11:6-9), supernaturally imposed by God, but nothing is said about any other physical differences.

Some have interpreted the Noahic prophecy concerning his three sons (Genesis 9:25-27) to refer to three races, Hamitic, Semitic and Japhetic, but such a meaning is in no way evident from the words of this passage. The prophecy applies to the descendants of Noah’s sons, and the various nations to be formed from them, but nothing is said about three races. Modern anthropologists and historians employ a much-different terminology than this simple trifurcation for what they consider to be the various races among men.

Therefore, the origin of the concept of “race” must be sought elsewhere than in the Bible. If certain Christian writers have interpreted the Bible in a racist framework, the error is in the interpretation, not in the Bible itself. In the Bible, there is only one race—the human race! “(God) hath made of one, all nations of men” (Acts 17:26).

What Is a Race?

In modern terminology, a race of men may involve quite a large number of individual national and language groups. It is, therefore, a much broader generic concept than any of the Biblical divisions. In the terminology of biological taxonomy, it is roughly the same as a “variety”, or a “sub-species”. Biologists, of course, use the term to apply to sub-species of animals, as well as men.

For example, Charles Darwin selected as the subtitle for his book Origin of Species the phrase “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”. It is clear from the context that he had races of animals primarily in mind, but at the same time it is also clear, as we shall see, that he thought of races of men in the same way.

That this concept is still held today is evident from the following words of leading modern evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson:

“Races of man have, or perhaps one should say ‘had’, exactly the same biological significance as the sub-species of other species of mammals.”

It is clear, therefore, that a race is not a Biblical category, but rather is a category of evolutionary biology. Each race is a sub-species, with a long evolutionary history of its own, in the process of evolving gradually into a distinct species.

As applied to man, this concept, of course, suggests that each of the various races of men is very different, though still inter-fertile, from all of the others. If they continue to be segregated, each will continue to compete as best it can with the other races in the struggle for existence and finally the fittest will survive. Or else, perhaps, they will gradually become so different from each other as to assume the character of separate species altogether (just as apes and men supposedly diverged from a common ancestor early in the so-called Tertiary Period).

Most modern biologists today would express these concepts somewhat differently than as above, and they undoubtedly would disavow the racist connotations. Nevertheless, this was certainly the point-of-view of the 19th century evolutionists, and it is difficult to interpret modern evolutionary theory, the so-called neo-Darwinian synthesis, much differently.

Nineteenth-Century Evolutionary Racism

The rise of modern evolutionary theory took place mostly in Europe, especially in England and Germany. Europeans, along with their American cousins, were then leading the world in industrial and military expansion, and were, therefore, inclined to think of themselves as somehow superior to the other nations of the world. This opinion was tremendously encouraged by the concurrent rise of Darwinian evolutionism and its simplistic approach to the idea of struggle between natural races, with the strongest surviving and thus contributing to the advance of evolution.

As the 19th century scientists were converted to evolution, they were thus also convinced of racism. They were certain that the white race was superior to other races, and the reason for this superiority was to be found in Darwinian theory. The white race had advanced farther up the evolutionary ladder and, therefore, was destined either to eliminate the other races in the struggle for existence or else to have to assume the “white man’s burden” and to care for those inferior races that were incompetent to survive otherwise.

Charles Darwin himself, though strongly opposed to slavery on moral grounds, was convinced of white racial superiority. He wrote on one occasion as follows:

“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit…. The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”

The man more responsible than any other for the widespread acceptance of evolution in the 19th century was Thomas Huxley. Soon after the American Civil War, in which the negro slaves were freed, he wrote as follows:

“No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried out by thoughts and not by bites.”

Racist sentiments such as these were held by all the 19th century evolutionists. A recent book has documented this fact beyond any question. In a review of this book, a recent writer says:

Ab initio, Afro-Americans were viewed by these intellectuals as being in certain ways unredeemably, unchangeably, irrevocably inferior.”

A reviewer in another scientific journal says:

“After 1859, the evolutionary schema raised additional questions, particularly whether or not Afro-Americans could survive competition with their white near-relations. The momentous answer was a resounding no…. The African was inferior—he represented the missing link between ape and Teuton.”

The Modern Harvest

In a day and age which practically worshipped at the shrine of scientific progress, as was true especially during the century from 1860 to 1960, such universal scientific racism was bound to have repercussions in the political and social realms. The seeds of evolutionary racism came to fullest fruition in the form of National Socialism in Germany. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, a contemporary of Charles Darwin and an ardent evolutionist, popularized in Germany his concept of the superman, and then the master race. The ultimate outcome was Hitler, who elevated this philosophy to the status of a national policy.

“From the ‘Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life’ (i.e., Darwin’s subtitle to Origin of Species) it was a short step to the preservation of favoured individuals, classes or nations—and from their preservation to their glorification…. Thus it has become a portmanteau of nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and dictatorship, of the cults of the hero, the superman, and the master race … recent expressions of this philosophy, such as Mein Kampf, are, unhappily, too familiar to require exposition here.”

However one may react morally against Hitler, he was certainly a consistent evolutionist. Sir Arthur Keith, one of the leading evolutionary anthropologists of our century, said:

“The German Fuhrer … has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.”

With respect to the question of race struggle, as exemplified especially in Germany, Sir Arthur also observed:

“Christianity makes no distinction of race or of colour: it seeks to break down all racial barriers. In this respect, the hand of Christianity is against that of Nature, for are not the races of mankind the evolutionary harvest which Nature has toiled through long ages to produce?”

In recent decades, the cause of racial liberation has made racism unpopular with intellectuals and only a few evolutionary scientists still openly espouse the idea of a long-term polyphyletic origin of the different races. On the other hand, in very recent years, the pendulum has swung, and now we have highly vocal advocates of “black power” and “red power” and “yellow power”, and these advocates are all doctrinaire evolutionists, who believe their own respective “races” are the fittest to survive in man’s continuing struggle for existence.

The Creationist Position

According to the Biblical record of history, the Creator’s divisions among men are linguistic and national divisions, not racial. Each nation has a distinct purpose and function in the corporate life of mankind, in the divine Plan (as, for that matter, does each individual).

“(God) hath made of one blood, all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation: That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him” (Acts 17:26,27).

No one nation is “better” than another, except in the sense of the blessings it has received from the Creator, perhaps in measure of its obedience to His Word and fulfillment of its calling. Such blessings are not an occasion for pride, but for gratitude.

We now have a new President of the United States, Donald J. Trump; our 45th President.  President Trump has two things apparent that do not bode well in Washington, D. C.: (1): he’s at war with the News Media and (2) he’s not “politically Correct” by any measure.  The latter begs the question “should Christians be politically correct”?

Political correctness (PC) is defined as “a term that describes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, religious belief, disability, and age-related contexts.” The key word here is offense. No individual or group is to be offended in the PC world. Certainly, as Christians, we are not to go out of our way to offend anyone personally, but the truth is that Christianity itself is offensive.

The apostle Paul references the “offense of the cross” in Galatians 5:11. The cross was an offense to the Jews because their idea of salvation was to “work the works of God” (John 6:28–29), meaning keeping the numerous burdensome Old Testament laws and rules. When Jesus came preaching salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, they were shattered. He made it plain that “by works of the law, no human being will be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20) and that all their law-keeping was of no value to them whatsoever. Especially repugnant to them was the idea that, without Jesus, they who prided themselves on their meticulous adherence to the letter, if not the spirit, of the law, could do nothing of spiritual value (John 15:5).

Truly, the offense Jesus created was a stumbling block to the Jews, as Paul explained to the Romans. He reminded them of Isaiah’s prophecy that God would lay a Cornerstone (Christ) in Zion over which many would stumble and fall (Isaiah 8:14; 28:16; Psalm 118:22; 1 Peter 2:6). Just as the Jews stumbled over the idea of their works being of no value to God, so do many today hate the idea that Christ will build His church not on human merits, but on His righteousness alone. That message is as offensive today as it was in Jesus’ day. No one likes to be told there is nothing he can do to earn his place in heaven.

Equally offensive is the necessity of dying to self in order to follow Christ. Of all the religions of the world today, Christianity is the only one where its founder tells you to follow Him and die. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me'” (Matthew 16:24). Those who heard this message knew exactly what Jesus meant; to follow Him was to die to self and give up everything they ever held dear. That’s why everyone ran away when He was arrested; they weren’t prepared to die with Him.

Correctness in the secular, political realm is not the concern of Christians or the church because “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will, by the power that enables him, “bring everything under his control” (Philippians 3:20–21).

Most words in the Bible that are translated “lust” mean “a passionate desire.” Strong desire can be either good or bad, depending upon the object of that desire and the motive behind it. God created the human heart with the capacity for passionate desire so that we would long after Him and His righteousness (Psalm 42:1–2; 73:25). However, the concept of “lust” is now usually associated with a passionate desire for something God has forbidden, and the word is seen as synonymous with sexual or materialistic desire.

James 1:14–15 gives us the natural progression of unrestrained lust: “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

According to this passage, sinful lust begins with an evil desire. Being tempted by evil is the not sin. Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1). The sin begins when the evil desire “drags us away” from where our hearts need to be. When an evil desire introduces itself, we have a choice. We can reject it as Jesus did and refocus on the path God has set before us (Matthew 4:10). Or we can entertain it. As someone once said, “We cannot stop the birds from flying overhead, but we don’t have to let them make a nest in our hair.” When temptation beckons, we need to remember that we are not helpless. We can choose to give in or to resist.

The reason we are “dragged away” by temptation is that we are “enticed.” That word in the Greek refers to bait, as on a fishing line. When a fish sees the wiggling worm, he is enticed by it and grabs hold. Once the hook is set, he can be “dragged away.” When we encounter temptation, we should immediately reject it as Joseph did when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:11–12). Hesitation opens the door to enticement. Romans 13:14 calls such hesitation “making provision for the flesh.” Like the unwary fish, we grab hold of the tempting thought, believing it will delight and fulfill us. We savor the fantasy, imagine new and sinful scenarios, and entertain the idea that God has not provided all we need for happiness (Genesis 3:2–4). This is foolish. Second Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee youthful lusts.” To “flee” means to take off immediately. Joseph did not stick around to consider his options. He recognized sexual temptation, and he ran. When we hesitate, we make provision for the flesh and give it the opportunity to choose evil. Often, we are overwhelmed by its power. Samson was a physically strong man, yet he was no match for his own lust (Judges 16:1).

The next step in the downward progression of temptation, according to James 1, is that “desire conceives.” Lust begins as a seed, a thought packed with wrong desire. If we allow the seeds of lust to germinate, they will sprout into something bigger, more powerful, more difficult to uproot. Temptation becomes sin when it is allowed to germinate. Desire takes on a life of its own and becomes lust. Jesus made it clear that lust is sin, even if we do not physically act on it (Matthew 5:27–28). Our hearts are God’s domain, and when we allow evil to grow there, we defile His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19).

Wrong desires plague every human being. The tenth commandment forbids coveting, which means lusting for something that is not ours (Deuteronomy 5:21; Romans 13:9). The human heart is constantly seeking to please itself, and when it discovers something or someone it believes will satisfy, lust begins.

It is only when our hearts are dedicated to the glory of God that we can overcome intrusive desires and conquer lust. When we surrender to the Lord, we find our needs met in a relationship with Him. We must “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We must allow the Holy Spirit to keep our thoughts where He wants them to be. It helps to pray daily the words of Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” When our heart’s desire is to please God more than ourselves, we can keep lust at bay.

The phrase “lust of the eyes” is found in 1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” What is this “lust of the eyes”?

Simply put, the lust of the eyes is the desire to possess what we see or to have those things which have visual appeal. This coveting of money, possessions, or other physical things is not from God, but from the world around us. John emphasizes that these physical things do not last; they will pass away. In contrast, the child of God is guaranteed eternity.

The Ten Commandments addressed the lust of the eyes in its prohibition against coveting. Exodus 20:17 commands, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Coveting can include a desire to have people, possessions, or status.

Satan uses the lust of the eyes as one avenue of temptation. Part of the reason Eve listened to the serpent in the Garden was that she looked at the forbidden fruit and saw that it was “pleasing to the eye” (Genesis 3:6). Satan used a visual image to help entrap her. Satan tried a similar tactic on Jesus. One of his temptations in the wilderness was an attempt to make Jesus covet earthly power. Satan used a visual: he “showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” (Matthew 4:8). He then promised to give them to Jesus—for a price. Of course, Jesus did not succumb to the lust of the eyes, and Satan was defeated (verses 10 and 11).

We must follow Jesus’ example and, in the power of the Holy Spirit, resist the lust of the eyes. The world is full of “eye candy,” glamor, and gaudiness. Materialism beckons with its promise of happiness and fulfillment. A media-saturated society bombards us with advertising campaigns that might as well say, “Covet this!”

All that glitters is not gold, and the child of God knows that fame, fortune, and finery quickly fade (Proverbs 23:5). Our focus is not the newest product or latest fashion. Our goal is not to keep up with the Joneses or to surround ourselves with the trappings of glittering magnificence. Instead, our goal is “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). Our eyes are set on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Our view is to eternity.

Cecil Alexander, the Irish hymnist, said it this way:

“Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store;
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, ‘Christian, love Me more.’”

What is lust?

The dictionary definition of lust is “1) intense or unrestrained sexual craving, or 2) an overwhelming desire or craving.” The Bible speaks of lust in several ways. Exodus 20:14, 17 (NLT), “Do not commit adultery. . . Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns,” or Matthew 5:28, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Job 31:11-12 (NLT) sums up lust quite nicely: “For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell. It would wipe out everything I own.”

Lust has as its focus pleasing oneself, and it often leads to unwholesome actions to fulfill one’s desires with no regard to the consequences. Lust is about possession and greed. The Christian faith is about selflessness and is marked by holy living (Romans 6:19, 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30, 6:19-20; Ephesians 1:4, 4:24; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16). The goal of each person who has put his/her faith in Jesus Christ is to become more and more like Him each day. This means putting off the old way of life of which sin was in control, and conforming one’s thoughts and actions to the standard put forth in Scripture. Lust is in opposition to this ideal.

Nobody will ever be perfect or attain sinlessness while still on this earth, yet it is still a goal for which we strive. The Bible makes a very strong statement regarding this in 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8, “God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” If lust has not yet gripped your heart and mind, ready yourself through a life lived above reproach to combat the temptations of lust. If you currently struggle with lust, it is time to come clean before God and ask for His intervention in your life, so that holiness can be a mark of your life as well.

Today I want to reach out to every Christian who faces peer pressure in the work place, community and even our churches. But especially I want to reach out to the younger generation, of Christians, who face peer pressure in our communities, schools and universities.

Why do we face peer pressure? The Bible clearly tells us that we should not expect our lives to look like the lives of other people (unbelievers) in this world. As Christians, we are aliens and strangers here on earth (1 Peter 2:11), and this world is not our home. Just as Christ was rejected—and still is—by so many who want to live life their own, ungodly way, we will also find the same types of people despising us for our faith.

In the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul speaks of how we are to know we are Christians. One of the points he emphasizes (see verse 6) is the fact that we should have joy despite suffering. We should expect to encounter trials and persecution as Christians, yet be comforted with the fact that God is in control and will repay any wrongs that are committed against us. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul talks about the troubles this church was continuing to face. He told them that when Christ returns and God judges the world, God “will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well” (1:6-7). Although many Christians will never face suffering as extreme as the Thessalonians did, or even those living in modern-day Sudan who are killed for their faith, we still suffer in smaller ways, such as the torture of peer pressure.

What does the Bible say about dealing with peer pressure? The Bible never uses the words “peer pressure,” but it does tell us how we should deal with the many trials we will face in our lives, especially those involving unbelievers. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:14-16 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

1 Peter 1:13-21 says, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”

The Bible also tells us that we can trust that God will work all things together for the good of His children (Romans 8:28). However, the Bible does not promise us an easy life, but a life that glorifies God as we learn lessons that are difficult and overcome attacks from Satan that would be impossible to overcome without God. We are being “conformed to the likeness of [Christ]” as God changes us through all our life (Romans 8:29-30). Be comforted that Christ Himself was tempted in every way we have been; He understands how difficult it is. Yet, the Bible promises us that God will provide a way of escape from every trial (1 Corinthians 10:13). Put your complete trust and faith in God. Let Him alone be your strength (Philippians 4:13) and your guide (Psalm 23).

Peer pressure will be a fleeting thing in our lives. Peer pressure is largely about insecurity and a desire for acceptance for all involved. Most people eventually realize that intimidating others to feel important is manipulative and immature. Those who have been followers will usually realize it is more important to make their own decisions and be their own person than to be controlled by someone else. We must not give in to peer pressure, whatever the situation. Standing up for what we believe and what the Bible teaches will please God. Throughout history, those who have been unafraid to stand on unpopular beliefs have been the ones to change the world and make things happen. There is so much in this world that we need to change, and so many people who need to be told about Christ. Letting other people decide what we do and how we behave is exactly what Satan hopes we will do; if we never stand up for what is right because of peer pressure, we are actually standing up for what is wrong.

In summary, what the Bible teaches about the civil rights movement is this: it should never have been necessary. Beginning with the kidnapping and chattel slavery of millions, on through the hateful attitudes that prevented neighbors from using the same drinking fountain, the attitudes and actions that led to a culture where the civil rights movement became necessary were all categorically unbiblical. Christianity and civil rights should go hand in hand. Discrimination based on race or skin color has no place in the Christian worldview.

To begin with, the practice of slavery that introduced millions of Africans to the American South was completely unscriptural and un-Christian. Exodus 21:16 says, “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” Several thousand years later, Paul equated kidnapping with lawlessness and rebellion against God’s order (1 Timothy 1:8-10). The New Testament admonitions for slaves to be submissive to their masters does not justify the actions of traders, slave owners, or the government and society that procured and treated slaves in ways directly contrary to Scripture.

After the slaves in America were emancipated, ungodly attitudes and actions toward them continued. There is nothing scriptural about racial prejudice (Galatians 3:28), unfair business practices (Proverbs 20:10), forced segregation within the Christian body (Galatians 3:29), or murder (Exodus 20:13). But human sin continued to shape an abusive society for a hundred years after the slaves were freed.

The goal of the civil rights movement was good and biblical—ensure fair rights and equal treatment for all. Any martin-luther-king-jraction that worked against this goal, therefore, has to be considered unbiblical. The Bible not only forbids favor for specific people groups, it forbids unfair treatment of anyone (James 2:1-7).

Thanks to the non-violent policies of many of the civil rights leaders, most notably Martin Luther King Jr.,  much of the work toward civil rights was biblical. Free speech is granted to all Americans, and reminding a government and a culture of their constitutional and spiritual responsibilities is good and right. The tremendous effort and patience of civil rights activists to work within local and national legal systems is a great example of positively changing a God-given authority from within. The Freedom Riders, activists who rode buses to challenge states’ segregation laws, were also lawful because the previous year the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in Boynton v. Virginia that racial segregation on public transportation violated the Interstate Commerce Act. Their endurance through physical attacks and prison is a classic example of 1 Peter 2:20 in action.

At the core of “civil rights” is the God-ordained value of each individual. Every person is made in the image of God. When nations recognize civil rights, they recognize the equality of all mankind. The civil rights movement in twentieth-century America can, for the most part, be considered a good example of encouraging a nation to embody more biblical standards.

The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January 1. Nothing mystical occurs at midnight on December 31. The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. However, if a Christian determines to make a New Year’s resolution, what kind of resolution should he or she make?

Common New Year’s resolutions are commitments to quit smoking, to stop drinking, to manage money more wisely, and to spend more time with family. By far, the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, in conjunction with exercising more and eating more healthily. These are all good goals to set. However, 1 Timothy 4:8 instructs us to keep exercise in perspective: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions, even among Christians, are in relation to physical things. This should not be.

Many Christians make New Year’s resolutions to pray more, to read the Bible every day, and to attend church more regularly. These are fantastic goals. However, these New Year’s resolutions fail just as often as the non-spiritual resolutions, because there is no power in a New Year’s resolution. Resolving to start or stop doing a certain activity has no value unless you have the proper motivation for stopping or starting that activity. For example, why do you want to read the Bible every day? Is it to honor God and grow spiritually, or is it because you have just heard that it is a good thing to do? Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to honor God with your body, or is it for vanity, to honor yourself?

Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” John 15:5 declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If God is the center of your New Year’s resolution, it has chance for success, depending on your commitment to it. If it is God’s will for something to be fulfilled, He will enable you to fulfill it. If a resolution is not God honoring and/or is not in agreement in God’s Word, we will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolution.

So, what sort of New Year’s resolution should a Christian make? Here are some suggestions: (1) pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) in regards to what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; (2) pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; (3) rely on God’s strength to help you; (4) find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; (5) don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further; (6) don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

Find out how Christmas Traditions and how Christmas is celebrated in lots of different countries and cultures around the world! Find out how your ancestors celebrate Christmas.

Carols were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but these were not Christmas Carols. They were pagan songs, sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced round stone circles (The word carol originally meant to dance to something). The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, usually taking place around the 22nd December. The word Carol actually means dance or a song of praise and joy! Carols used to be written and sung during all four seasons, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas has really survived.

Early Christians took over the pagan solstice celebrations for Christmas and gave people Christian songs to sing instead of pagan ones. In 129, a Roman Bishop said that a song called “Angel’s Hymn” should be sung at a Christmas service in Rome. Another famous early Christmas Hymn was written in 760, by Comas of Jerusalem, for the Greek Orthodox Church. Soon after this many composers all over Europe started to write ‘Christmas carols’. However, not many people liked them as they were all written and sung in Latin, a language that the normal people couldn’t understand. By the time of the Middles Ages (the 1200s), most people had lost interest in celebrating Christmas altogether.

This was changed by St. Francis of Assisi when, in 1223, he started his Nativity Plays in Italy. The people in the plays sang songs or ‘canticles’ that told the story during the plays. Sometimes, the choruses of these new carols were in Latin; but normally they were all in a language that the people watching the play could understand and join in! The new carols spread to France, Spain, Germany and other European countries.

The earliest carol, like this, was written in 1410. Sadly only a very small fragment of it still exists. The carol was about Mary and Jesus meeting different people in Bethlehem. Most Carols from this time and the Elizabethan period are untrue stories, very loosely based on the Christmas story, about the holy family and were seen as entertaining rather than religious songs. They were usually sung in homes rather than in churches! Traveling singers or Minstrels started singing these carols and the words were changed for the local people wherever they were traveling. One carols that changed like this is ‘I Saw Three Ships’.

Etching of old Caroling Singing Men from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koledniki-valvasor.jpg

When Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came to power in England in 1647, the celebration of Christmas and singing carols was stopped. However, the carols survived as people still sang them in secret. Carols remained mainly unsung until Victorian times, when two men called William Sandys and Davis Gilbert collected lots of old Christmas music from villages in England.

Before carol singing in public became popular, there were sometimes official carol singers called ‘Waits’. These were bands of people led by important local leaders (such as council leaders) who had the only power in the towns and villages to take money from the public (if others did this, they were sometimes charged as beggars!). They were called ‘Waits’ because they only sang on Christmas Eve (This was sometimes known as ‘watchnight’ or ‘waitnight’ because of the shepherds were watching their sheep when the angels appeared to them.), when the Christmas celebrations began.

Also, at this time, many orchestras and choirs were being set up in the cities of England and people wanted Christmas songs to sing, so carols once again became popular. Many new carols, such as ‘Good King Wenceslas’, were also written in the Victorian period.

New carols services were created and became popular, as did the custom of singing carols in the streets. Both of these customs are still popular today! One of the most popular types of Carols services are Carols by Candlelight services. At this service, the church is only lit by candlelight and it feels very Christmassy! Carols by Candlelight services are held in countries all over the world.

The most famous type of Carol Service might be a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, where carols and Bible readings tell the Christmas Story.