As this year draws to a close, we look back and think of what occurred, what we accomplished, and what might have been. The end of a year brings a mix of thoughts of satisfaction, relief, achievement, sorrow, pain, and regret. There’s something about completing a chapter in one’s life that invokes nostalgia, retrospection, and hope in all of us. A brand new year promises a clean slate for us.
Goal setting and resolutions run rampant, filling even the weakest of us with resolve and willpower for at least a day or two. Humans are a predictable but interesting lot. This new year, let’s focus less on ourselves and more on what matters. Losing weight, buying a new house, and finding a better job are worthwhile pursuits, but none of them will matter if we die tomorrow. The only thing that matters is what we do for Jesus.
Before beginning this new year, it is helpful to ask some clarifying questions. Am I closer to God today than I was at this time last year? Is my knowledge of God’s Word greater than it was a year ago? Am I satisfied with the quality and regularity of my prayer life? Do I have more Scripture memorized now than I did last year? Do the ways I spend the time, money, and talents entrusted to me glorify God or myself? Are my thoughts focused on things that are pure, just, lovely, honorable, commendable, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8)? Do my words consistently build others up or tear them down (Ephesians 4:29)?
Our answers to the questions above provide us with all the direction we need for God-honoring goals in the year to come. The only goal that matters is to become more like Jesus. It is the only worthwhile goal, and the only one worth the pursuit of your life. Life isn’t complicated. Love God and hate sin. Everything else is simply noise.
Not only will the questions above guide you in shaping worthy habits in the new year, but they will also help prepare you for the persecution to come. For years, we would casually speak of the possibility of facing persecution for our faith someday. It didn’t seem real or possible, so we gave it little thought. Sadly, that day has arrived. Persecution is no longer a possibility but a certainty. We’re already seeing the beginnings of it. Standing firm on the teachings of the Bible obliterates businesses and reputations overnight. Not capitulating to the whims and lies of the culture results in the ostracizing of believers with alarming regularity. The time for spiritual fitness is now. We can wait no longer.
In this new year, there is cause for great hope. The Church is rapidly shedding the nominal Christians who were never true followers of Christ after all. Discipleship is on the rise, emboldening a remnant of believers who will hold fast to the truth of Scripture, whatever the cost. True Christianity is shining forth despite every attempt to snuff it out. There is hope for those who refuse to turn away from Jesus. His return is closer than ever, and we must be ready. In this new year, draw closer to Christ in every area of your life. Love Him and others more, and never let an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus pass you by. This is the recipe to have your best year ever.