As I contemplate this past year of 2017, its joys and sorrows, its failures and victories, I am moved to make changes, set goals, and reprioritize some things in my life in 2018. I have never officially written down any “New Year’s resolutions.” I have often thought it was silly to wait to start anything worthwhile for any certain day, when NOW seems the best and even most Biblical way to usher in necessary change (Acts 8, Acts 16, Romans 6 and II Corinthians 6).
Many people today are deciding or seeking to exercise on a regular basis, put more money into retirement each month, pay off debt, apply for a new job, further their education, become more organized, cease unhealthy habits like smoking, just to name a few.
While all of these resolutions are admirable, wise, and yes doable, are they enough?
Our brother Paul encouraged the Colossians in chapter 3 verses 1 and 2: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
What are you seeking this year? What am I seeking?
Of course eating healthier and managing our money better are habits that can be supported by scripture. But if every ounce of our being is dedicated to those things that are temporal or earthly have we not missed out on the greatest eternal treasures?
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
What resolutions are you making this year to better prepare you for heaven? What are some “spiritual healthy habits” to commence this year?
May I briefly suggest to you these three simple yet profound admonitions from the old prophet Micah?
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8
- Do justly. The nature of the original language suggests that we pronounce the “proper verdict” in all situations, whether favorable or unfavorable. Seeking justice is challenging through the eyes and minds of men. But we must endeavor to seek the truth in matters and provide fairness and proper discipline in any given circumstance. This can be applied in our lives as parents, employees, church members, and citizens. John 7:24 teaches, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” We must not be afraid to do what is right even when those around us are practicing otherwise. We must not give in to political correctness or popularity at the cost of doing justly.
- Love mercy. Mercy is sometimes translated kindness here. The best translation would be “merciful kindness.” How can we possible love merciful kindness? Take a moment and recall or read Paul’s teachings of the great love chapter in I Corinthians 13. Are we searching for the worst in others? Do we keep records of wrongs? To love mercy is to see the best in others, to overlook pet peeves, and to forgive swiftly and completely when asked. We must hope for necessary changes and bear the burdens others face with them. We must not rejoice in the suffering of others, but be willing and ready to assist them in better life choices and decisions that will lead them towards God.
- Walk humbly. I believe pride is the greatest downfall of mankind. Satan’s pride led to his betrayal of God (I Timothy 3:6). The pride of man led to the fall of man in the garden (Genesis 3). Pride has snared even the best of God’s people which led to all kinds of sin: David’s pride producing acts of murder and adultery (II Samuel 11) and Peter’s pride leading to the betrayal of Jesus (John 18) and prejudices within the church (Acts 11 and Galatians 2).
Humility cannot be overstated as a necessary component in the life of a faithful follower of God. Jas 4:6 tells us that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” So what does humility look like? James continues in verse 7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Humility first involves submission to God and His will, not our own. We cannot allow our wants and desires to trump God’s plans and commands for our lives. Humility also involves submission to each other. I Peter 5:5-7 states “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
It takes great humility to allow others the front seat, the accolades, the limelight, the credit, and the glory. It takes great humility to put another’s desires and wishes before our own. It takes great humility to realize we cannot make any resolutions without the help of God Almighty. It takes great humility to resolve to do what is right while the world continues living in earthly pleasures. It takes great humility to give God our burdens, fears, and trials, instead of bearing them alone. Finally it takes great humility to confess sin, repent of it, and follow God’s Word.
So may I ask again, what are you seeking? What am I seeking?
“What does the LORD require of ME?”
Among the number of resolutions (written down or mentally noted) we make this year, may these three rise to the top of the list: “to do justly, to love, mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
May God bless you this year as you seek Him first. (Matthew 6:33)
-This devotional thought, as well as our beautiful wallpapers created by Ashley, are dedicated to Kristen’s grandfather, the loving and faithful follower of God, E. Claude Gardner who passed away the last day of 2017. Kristen says he often had his family read Micah 6:8 during his last days.
Good reminders here! Faith goals, or spiritual goals, are so important. That’s why I love your faith planner! We makes plans and have planners to achieve temporary things. Why not have a planner to help you set goals and lay out steps to achieve the most important thing- a closer relationship with Christ!
Totally agree, Stacey!! We overlook that quite a bit, it seems. Everything else seems so urgent that we often miss the truly important stuff.