An Alternative to Start the Year

img_0014Matthew 6:34

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (HCSB).

A new year is thought to be an opportunity for people to change their lives. Most of us want to lose weight, to simplify our lives, to improve our financial situation, to succeed in our careers, to have better family relationships, to break bad habits, etc. “Resolved, this year I will ____________!” It all sounds plausible. “How hard can it be to lose ten pounds this year? I have twelve months to do it.”

Yes, it sounds doable, if the goal is realistic. Yet, so many fail to change. I suppose a book could be written about the reasons for failure. I will simply say that part of the problem is that our lives are primarily made up of seconds, minutes, and hours. We live in the present, not in the unknown future of “this year”. We might make ambitious goals for a year or even longer, but these have a way of getting consumed in the demands of everyday life. We can want to lose ten pounds or more, but there is the party this weekend and there will be desserts. “I have to be sociable, don’t I?” The choices we make in smaller units of time affect what happens to longer range goals or resolutions.

My point is not to abandon long-term planning. It is to keep it real. In Matthew six, Jesus tells us to have the long-term plan to collect for yourselves treasures in heaven (6:20 HCSB). But he also understood our strong tendency to worry rather than to trust God. The long-term goal too easily becomes consumed by short-term worries about tomorrow, this week, next month, the rest of the year, and so on. This means that I must trust God to supply my needs for today and tomorrow, so that I can get involved in his long-term goal for me today. I cannot suppose, “I will worry today and trust God tomorrow.” I must trust him today about today and tomorrow.

This holds true about the resolutions we make, hopefully godly resolutions. We accomplish them in the events of the seconds, minutes, and hours of our lives. For example, it is unrealistic to have the nebulous goal of more fellowship with other believers or outreach to unbelievers this year, and not devote time in our everyday lives for it. We need to choose to trust God with our years and invest time in days in doing what is godly, right, and loving. This is more helpful than making resolutions for a year, supposing that in a year we will get them done.

Grace and peace, David

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