Another year has almost passed into eternity. A few more days, and we shall enter a new year. My brethren and sisters, employ wisely the remaining hours of the old year. If you have in any wise neglected your duty, repent before God, and return to the path from which you have wandered. Remember how brief the period of life allotted you. You know not how soon your probation may close. Say not presumptuously, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain.” [James 4:13.] God may have different plans for you. Life is but a vapor, “that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth.” [Verse 14.] You know not how soon your hand may lose its cunning, your step its firmness. There is peril in a moment’s delay. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” [Isaiah 55:6, 7.]
What is your stewardship? Have you during the past year robbed God in tithes and offerings? Look at your well-filled barns, at your cellars stored with the good things the Lord has given you, and ask yourselves whether you have returned to the Giver that which belongs to him. If you have robbed the Lord, make restitution. As far as possible, make the past right, and then ask the Saviour to pardon you. Will you not return to the Lord his own, before this year, with its burden of record, has passed into eternity? . . .
Let your prayers and your alms rise as a memorial before God. Remember that faith without works is dead. We are to pray, and we are to give all that we can, both of our labor and of our means, for the fulfillment of our prayers.
From age to age Jesus has been delivering his goods to men and women. Soon will come the day when he will call each to account for the use made of these goods. It is God who gives men power to get wealth. He waters the earth with the dews of heaven and with the showers of refreshing rain. He gives the sunlight, which warms the earth, awakening to life the things of nature, and causing them to flourish and bear fruit. And he asks for a return of his own.
Hoarded wealth is not merely useless; it is a curse. In this life it is a snare to the soul, drawing the affections away from the heavenly treasure. In the great day of God its witness to unused talents and neglected opportunities will condemn its possessor.
There are many who in their hearts charge God with being a hard master because he claims their possessions and their service. But we can bring to God nothing that is not already his. “All things come of thee,” said King David, “and of thine own have we given thee.” [1 Chronicles 29:14.] All things are God’s, not only by creation, but by redemption. All the blessings of this life and of the life to come are delivered to us stamped with the cross of Calvary. Review and Herald, December 23, 1902
Thoughts for the New Year
In God’s plan for His ancient people, He gave the command, “On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle.” [Exodus 40:2.] We have no tabernacle to set up as had the children of Israel, but we have a work of building to do, the importance of which all need to understand. Let us remember that character is not the result of accident, but day by day it is forming for good or for evil. Great importance attaches to this work of character building; for it is far-reaching in its results. We are builders for time and for eternity. Few realize the power of habit. Examine your own heart and life in the light of God’s Word, and ask yourself, “What has my record been for the year that is just closing? What advancement have I made in the Christian life? What victories have I gained? And what have I done to help others, and to lead them to Christ?”
God has not placed you in the world to lead an aimless life. He designs that you should be useful, and reach a high standard of moral excellence. To each one some work is given. During the old year have you performed your appointed tasks with cheerfulness and fidelity, having an eye single to the glory of God? Opportunities and privileges have been granted you; what use have you made of these gifts entrusted to you by our Heavenly Father? Have you made yourself a blessing to those around you? Have you done what you could to make them happy and win them to Christ?
All this is a part of your appointed work. God also requires each of us to subdue self, not giving the rein to self-indulgence or appetite, and to form characters that will stand the test of the judgment and go with us into the future life.
Shall the close of the year find you further advanced than you are today? Will you put away evil habits? Will you be considerate of others, faithful to do the work of a Christian? If you will carry the principles of right-doing into all the affairs of life, you will find that it will promote health of body, peace of mind, and prosperity of soul. You will have a strength, dignity, and sweetness of character that will have a transforming influence upon others.
We are now entering upon a new year, and may it prove a beginning of years to us. If in the old year we have made failures, let us commence the new by rectifying these errors as far as we can. If the old year has borne into eternity a spotted record of opportunities neglected and privileges slighted, let us see that that of the new year is free from these blemishes. Its days are all before us; let us begin now to make the history of each as it passes, such as we shall not tremble to meet in the judgment. Let us fill each one full of loving, helpful work for others. Let us develop all our powers, and make of ourselves all that God designed that we should.
In the keeping of God’s commandments there is great reward. A reward awaits the overcomer in the great day, when he shall hear from the lips of our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant;” [Matthew 25:23] and there is also a present reward in the peace and happiness that flow from the conscience at rest, from the sweet assurance that we enjoy the favour of God. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” [Psalm 25:10.] To all who walk in His ways the new year will be crowded with goodness and blessing. Australasian Union Conference Record, January 5, 1914.
Ellen G. White (1827–1915) is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. White was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world’s attention to the Holy Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ’s second advent.