Monday, December 28, 2009

What do you need to improve on in the new year?

Good morning my friends. Are you much into New Year's Resolutions? No, either am I. If we need a special occasion to decide to change something or to improve on ourselves it probably won't stick. Still, the occasion of a new year is tempting as we think about a new beginning, a blank sheet that is yet to be filled with the mistakes we regret. The problem is that we take into the new year the baggage from all our previous years. The only true way to have a blank sheet before us is through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Here's the thing about that: we have it with every new day of our lives, not just as we move from year to year.

The attraction of a new year is more than just a new beginning, it also has to do with change. We use it as an opportunity to make some changes in our lives, things that we want to improve on. This is when all the gyms see a great increase in their membership. I remember being a regular gym member and how come January suddenly I had to fight to get to the equipment. Yet, by the end of the month the crowds had thinned out and by March it was pretty well back to normal. We are great at recognizing the need for change but very weak in our resolve to do anything about it for very long. It is amazing how quickly we can adjust to things we would never have accepted before when it requires a bit of effort to overcome it. The only real change that can happen is when we accept Jesus Christ and allow our old self to die and then take on the new self that we become in Jesus. This is when real change begins but does not end.

As Christians we should have a sense of constant change and improvement. The Holy Spirit is always working on us, changing things in us so that we would have the character of Jesus, the first born of our family. However, this is an ongoing project of the Holy Spirit which is taking place every day not such with the change from the old year to the new year. The Holy Spirit gives us the ambition to change, but these are significant changes not just cosmetic stuff. These are things of character where we gain the capacity to love more deeply, give more freely, forgive more readily.

However, Paul did have a bit of instruction for the Thessalonians which I think would be wise for us all to consider implementing, whether it is before or after the new year:

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

Paul gives three things that the Thessalonians should be doing: lead a quiet life, mind your own business, work with your hands. Simple, but imagine what changes it would bring about if all the members of the Church lived with such an attitude. Look at the benefits: winning the respect of the unchurched, and freedom from dependence on anyone but the Lord. So in other words, following Paul's instructions will improve our witness for Jesus. "But it seems so simple." The funny thing is, most God things are simple.

It is my pray for the Church that our one desire for change this year is that we will be more efficient witnesses for Jesus Christ; that through our simple daily living the "outsiders" will see Jesus in us. The way we live, love, laugh, work, pay our bills, react to good and bad times all effect how people see Jesus. Let us be excellent witnesses of his love and faithfulness, for the sake of the salvation of the lost and dying world. Living a quiet life, minding our business, and working hard in our jobs will go a long way in doing just that. So no great resolutions, just the ambition to do well what we have been instructed to do.

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