Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Christian and the New Year

It is inevitable: the New Year comes and out come the new year’s resolutions. It is human nature, I suppose, that we have the tendency to look at the turning of the calendar as a new beginning even though the first day of January doesn't look any different than the last day of December. What we failed to do in the year that went by we hope we will be able to accomplish in the New Year. And conversely, what we did that we perhaps don’t feel too good about, we hope we won’t repeat in the year that has begun. But, what about our spiritual lives? Do we think about improving our spiritual health the way that we do our physical health? Do we want to drop bad spiritual habits the way we want to drop excess pounds?

 These thoughts crossed my mind the other day when my wife read a “Christmas letter” from one of our correspondents. There was mention of trips, vacations, events and other entertaining affairs, but nary a word about what had happened to the individual in the spiritual realm. Mind you, I’m not talking about someone who doesn’t know the Lord. Were that the case then it would be understandable. This is an individual who has been a Christian for perhaps many decades. Yet, you would never know that they did anything of a spiritual nature by reading this particular letter.

Why is it that we’re so busy when it comes to entertainment, plays, suppers, and on and on, but we seem to have so little time to dedicate to the spiritual aspects of our lives? You often hear people speak of how busy they are as a reason for being unable to do certain things for the body of Christ. And are they likely to be speaking about spiritual endeavors that take up their time? Probably not. It will be, you guessed it, suppers, plays, sports, and on and on. I have a philosophy about these matters that is very similar to the philosophy I have about my garage: if you have so much stuff in it that you can’t fit your cars in there, then you have too much stuff! (Nothing personal about those who have a "Texas basement" in their garage!) In the same manner, if your life is so busy that you don’t have time to dedicate to the spiritual pursuits that will make you who you ought to be, then you’re too busy.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m not suggesting that you cease doing anything that is not of a “spiritual” nature and dedicate your every waking moment to doing things that seem to be of that persuasion. After all, according to the New Testament, everything we do should be done to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) Thus, we can play, work and do anything else we need to do while glorifying God. But what I am saying is that we need to be more cognizant of the fact that we’re often giving our children and grandchildren the impression that being constantly entertained continues to be our priority even after we stop being children. Our leisure time has become so paramount that we feel put off if anything infringes upon it; even if that something is the Lord!!

 The bottom line is that we can and should have balance in all things. We don’t need to stop doing “fun” things in order to dedicate ourselves to missions, or witnessing or any other such activity. The key is to learn the difference between doing something because it is enjoyable and wholesome and making it an obsession. And by the way, let me say here that I know whereof I speak. I’ve been there myself because I have, at one time or another, allowed my leisure time and my workout time to become the first priority in my life. And I have to tell you in all frankness, that I still struggle at times. It is no good when your free time becomes your god and you go so far as to be annoyed because someone may need help during those times.

So, if you’re facing the New Year and wondering what it will bring and how you can make the best of it, remember your spiritual life and commit yourself to being the best Christian you can possibly be. Hopefully at the end of the year when you’re looking back, you won’t have to wonder where the year has gone and why you failed to make any progress in your spiritual walk with the Lord. If you do so, you may even find that writing a “Christmas letter” will fill you with satisfaction and will indeed help you look forward to the next year.






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