Three Principles for Embracing the New Year
We are in the “Year in Review” season! That time of year when the news channels, periodicals, and even our own hearts look back at the year that passed and anticipate what the New Year will bring.
I was amused when I read a prediction offered in 1962 that reported by 1985, technology would have made so many advances, that the average workweek would be twenty-two hours, and we would only work twenty-seven weeks a year. Our biggest problem would be what to do with so much leisure time! How did that work out for you?
When we think of the New Year, we consider our resolutions for changing our behavior and enjoying success going forward. Sadly, we recall that some of our resolutions are repeats from last year. Ephesians 5:15-17 is a passage that can help us in ordering our priorities and establishing our direction for 2019, and I believe there are three truths that God would have us to consider.
Ephesians 5:15-17 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Our time on earth is limited
God reminds us of this truth in Psalm 39:4. LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
I remember (barely) in my teen years, that I thought seventy years old was just shy of eternity! Now as I quickly close in on that important landmark, it seems like such a brief journey. Everything depends on perspective, and we are to have a measured perspective. We do not have endless days or multiple lives to be obedient Christians, great spouses, godly parents, and loyal friends. We have a measured number of days. In Psalm 90:12, the Lord gives us more to consider: So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Several years ago, I read an article entitled “Dead Ahead.” It described a new clock that was being sold for $99.99. The Dead Ahead clock kept track of how much time you had left in your life. It was programmed for seventy-five years for men and eighty years for women. Every day when you got up and every evening before you pillowed your head, you could see how much time remained in your pilgrimage on earth. I hope the goal was to inspire wise living - not eat, drink, and be merry living! We as believers should not even boast of tomorrow, for we know our days are numbered and to be used wisely, which leads us to our next principle.
Make the most of every worthwhile opportunity
Paul told us to redeem the time, because the times in which we live and the world in which we live is evil. One of the shades of meaning of that word evil is the thought of being worthless. We live in days when people spend their time, energy, and resources on worthless pursuits - things that do not matter and will not last. We as believers are to live lives that are worthwhile! Satan is a thief and his desire is to steal the best years, the best desires, the best goals of our lives and move us toward the worthless.
Part of redeeming the time is carefully recognizing that we are to seize every opportunity to learn of Him. If we are not wise, we can miss what Mary saw. Martha was busy and cumbered with much that was good to do, but she was not careful about attending to the best. When our lives become a flurry of activity without time dedicated to sitting at the feet of Jesus, we have allowed Satan to steal something very important from us. Jesus taught us that we cannot live by bread alone, but that we need every word that comes from the Lord. We must be careful to redeem the time, but we must seize the most worthwhile opportunities in our lives. In our world it is easy to be overcome with commitments, information, and possessions, but we must make wise choices. To make wise choices requires us to understand the final principle.
Understand what the will of the Lord is
I would never suggest that I know what the will of God is specifically for anyone’s life but my own, but I would make one suggestion for all of us about discovering and doing His will in the New Year. Make your greatest priority your relationship with the Lord. Making your relationship with the Lord your number one priority will find you prioritizing church attendance, devotional time, family time, and even spending and giving practices. When our relationship with the Lord becomes our number one priority, it is amazing how our whole perspective on life falls into a worthwhile pattern.
Robert E. Lee guided his life with the phrase, “Carpe Deim!” or “Seize the day!” Let’s seize the day, the year, the life - but let us add to that thought: “Seize the day to the glory of God!”