Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup has been a Methodist pastor for 28 years, during which he was also President of Trinity Annual Conference from 2005 to 2012 before he was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore for the quadrennium till 2016.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)
The love that God has for you this New Year is not last year's love. It is a 2014 love, not something carried over from the past.
Think about this for a while. At 11.59 pm tonight I know that Gods steadfast love is with me. At 12.01 am His love is with me. It should be the same love that existed just two minutes earlier, shouldn it? So how is it new every morning, as the prophet declares?
Gods love is everlasting. But it is not like a treasured artefact discovered millennia ago preserved in a specially-enclosed casing so that it is not affected by the elements. His love is the same through the passage of time, and yet it is not what it was yesterday. There is a renewing of that love while keeping to its consistency and continuity.
Perhaps we can relate this to a routine that took place during the exodus from Egypt. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, there was fresh manna every morning. They were not to keep the days provision for the next day. Every day they received a fresh new supply.
Imagine Gods love as that supply of manna. Yesterday, we might have greatly taxed Gods love by our holding anger and grudges against several people, by the harsh words we used against colleagues, by driving through red lights while swearing at traffic systems. We harboured unforgiveness and resentment in our hearts that lingered into today.
Yet, today when God deals with us, it is not yesterdays love that He brings. It is a new fresh supply from His heart. He is not fed up with us that we keep repeating the same idiotic habits. He forgave us in Christ, and as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. He keeps coming to us.
What are the implications of this?
Admittedly, we are trying to wrap our minds around a subject that is impossible to completely comprehend. The message that Lamentations 3:23 gives is meant to inject hope in the midst of everything that is falling apart. Steadfast love is covenant language. It simply means that His commitment to love us is sealed in a lasting arrangement.
No matter what we do to the contrary, it will not stop Him going to work to show His love for us. Even if we reject Him, He will find ways to get us to know His love for us by finding ways for us to change our heart and mind, which may include suffering, or experiencing the consequences of our sins, in order that we may willingly respond to His love favourably. In His mercy and grace, God does not give up on us.
For the Lord to keep on doing something like that without ceasing, it is no wonder that His love has to be new every day. If it had been any of us, it would have been impossible, for we would most probably have exhausted all our love.
This steadfast love is of the Lord unique, one-of-a-kind. This is the love that goes out to you this new year, every day. This is the blessing I refer to when I now wish you: A blessed New Year!
[Updated 26 December 2013]