How are you feeling heading into a new year? It seems we are expected to head into the New Year full of resolutions to somehow make this next twelve months better than the last twelve. There is always lots of talk about resolutions and then the inevitable talk about how we fail to keep those resolutions.
It is certainly a good thing to pause and reflect and evaluate what went well in the past and to consider what changes may be necessary in the future. God certainly requires us to be wise in our decision-making. So, what should this evaluation and planning look like for a Christian?
Each person and their situation is unique but living in a busy, modern, western society we all have some aspects in common which impact us and which we need to take into account as we seek to make wise choices.
You might be a parent with small children or teenagers, a grandparent or someone with extended family. You might be working full time, part time, or volunteering and I am hoping you are all involved in your church life in an active way.
Regardless of any of the above our society is 24/7, requires instant gratification, and has blurred boundaries across all aspects of life. There is also constant pressure to succeed and to be happy.
Add to that we are living in an age where the notion of Christian values is fast becoming not only marginalised but spoken about aggressively in many aspects of our media. Even government legislation challenges our beliefs.
So as Christians I believe our evaluating should involve a consideration of what is our true focus, to what we give most of our time and why. What do we daydream about? What are we most scared of losing? Does God and his word shape our day to day lives?
What about our family? If we were to be honest, what do we want for our children and grandchildren? Is it for them to go to uni and get a “good” job, buy that elusive house and be happy? Or do we want them to know Christ as their Lord and Saviour, to be so in love with Jesus that they prioritise his word and apply it to their lives regardless of the cost? To be prepared to stand for Christ in an age where being a Christian is not popular, where it may impact their job prospects in the future and mean they will be marginalised.
What about your work, in whatever capacity? Are you able to ensure you have spent time, and I mean decent time, with your family or are your cutting corners at home because your career would suffer if you didn’t? Are you able to serve at your church or is there simply not enough time because of your work commitments plus family commitments?
What about your other activities? I heard someone say that they had quite deliberately thought through their TV watching and determined that two shows was good relaxation but more than that meant they neglected other things they needed to get done. Are we this thoughtful with our use of social media or our children’s hobbies and activities?
Do you spend time each day listening to what God is saying in his word. And I don’t mean the quick bible verse you get sent on an app. I mean actually reading, reflecting and then applying. Is this a dream that you would like to achieve but by the end of the day it has been pushed to the back burner? I know for me there are so many distractions that the time…checking something online, just answering that email, occasionally even house cleaning eats away at my time with the Lord.
This all sounds a bit dramatic and rather difficult. After all, it isn’t easy to change work or work hours; our children love the many activities they do; we must pay our bills etc., etc. All of those are undoubtedly factors to take into account. We are all striving for that balance between so many competing factors and we all only have the same number of hours in a day. Plus, we all have different circumstances and so the decisions one person makes will not necessarily be right for the next person.
However, there are some Biblical truths that we need to have as the basis for evaluating our work, our family life, our interests, our children’s interests, our church involvement. These should be helping inform our decision-making.
We are in the world not of the world.
This world is broken and the things of earth are temporary. (Romans 8:22-23)
Jesus and his word need to prioritise what we do, think and say even if that means cutting something out, doing something less or doing something in a different way. (John 15:1-11, Matthew 5:29-30)
What we treasure has our heart and our allegiance. (Matthew 6:20-21)
Physical training is of some value but godliness is of value in every way. (1 Tim 4.8)
Everything we do should be done for the glory of God. (Psalm 19:14, 1 Cor 10:31)
In the Old Testament God required his house to be in order before the people built their luxurious houses (Haggai 1:2-4). Our priority
should be building God’s kingdom not a kingdom here on earth.
Does this all seem hard, extreme, lots of work and will it make our lives different and maybe not as “comfortable” or as “normal” as they are now? Maybe. But a life directed by God, his word and for the sole purpose of glorifying him ends in heaven with our God saying, “well done good and faithful servant”.
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