December 31, 2021 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
My dear brothers and sisters, here we are at the end of another difficult and challenging year with its strange new circumstances brought about by the COVID pandemic, unstable religious and political situations, natural disasters, and more. These are certainly challenging times, and as we enter a new year, it is good to reflect on ways we can face the future with confidence.
When Ellen White was living in Australia, she wrote a letter to a Brother and Sister Sisley on January 3, 1900. It was at the dawn of not only a new year, but a new century. She wrote:
“I greet you this morning with a ‘Happy New Year.’ Another year, with its burden of record, has passed into eternity. We know not what that record is, and cannot know till the judgment. But a new year has commenced, and I feel like dedicating myself anew to God–soul, body, heart, and strength. A new page is turned. What shall be the record of this new year? What shall be its revelations in the history of the world? What shall be its revelation in our individual history?” (Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2, 1900).
While we cannot know exactly what the history of the world will be in the coming year, we can, in some ways guide our own individual history. One way to do that is by dedicating ourselves ”anew to God–soul, body, heart, and strength.” When we do this, we are choosing to follow the biblical command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength’ as first recorded in Deuteronomy 6:4,5 and quoted in Mark 12:30. The passage goes on in verses 30 and 31: ”This is the first commandment, and the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’” again quoting from the Old Testament.
These ancient commands are still relevant for us today–to love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. Imagine the impact we could have this new year if we each asked God, through His grace, to help us love Him fully and to love others as much as we love ourselves. Imagine the potential of not only impacting our own personal history this coming year, but that of the world!
But what does it mean, ”To love your neighbor as yourself?” Yes, it certainly reminds us of the story of the Good Samaritan, who helped the man in need, and we should certainly help relieve the sufferings of those around us. And in addition to helping people with their temporal needs, we are called to do more.
In the Review & Herald, February 5, 1884, Ellen White wrote: ”Dear brethren and sisters, when you become imbued with the missionary spirit, when you learn to love your neighbors as yourself, you will not be content to see souls perishing all around you without doing all you can to save them.”
Brothers and sisters, can you imagine the impact we could make in this new year if we each asked the Lord to imbue us with His missionary spirit to help us save as many souls as possible for the kingdom?
How can we do this? Zechariah 4:6 tells us: ”‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
It is plain for all to see that with each passing day this world is descending deeper into uncertainty and chaos. Even those who don’t believe in God recognize something unusual is happening. People are looking for answers. They are looking for something, or Someone, they can rely on. They are looking for Truth.
My brother, my sister, you and I have been called ”for such a time as this.” It is time to show love to our neighbors by proclaiming, through God’s grace, His final messages of love to the world–the three angels’ messages—proclaiming the everlasting Gospel, worshipping God as our Creator, and recognizing that the time of His judgment has come. We are to invite all to come out of Babylon, and to receive the seal of God, rather than the terrible Mark of the Beast.
As this new year begins, are you willing, by God’s grace and power, to show His love for others by going to reach the world for Him? If you are, I invite you to stand wherever you are right now as we pray together.
Father in heaven, please, come close to each of us as we enter a new year, we don’t exactly know what this new year will bring, but we do know that if we rely completely on you you will carry us through, you will guide our steps, you will open the pathway before us, not just to preserve ourselves, but to share with others the love of Christ and the hope found in the three angels messages, pointing people back to the true worship of God, help us Lord in a practical way, as we walk into this new year to lean completely upon you, and to share your precious messages of encouragement to those around us, telling them that Jesus is coming soon. Thank you for hearing us and bless us now, as we walk into this new year Potential and possibilities, all through your power, in Jesus name we ask it, amen.