At the beginning of a new year, we seem to look inward. Starting fresh seems to equal a renewal of disciplines we’ve allowed to slip or have ignored altogether. It’s time to start a new diet, work-out, read devotionals, drink a gallon of water, watch less television, spend less time on phones and Facebook, and swear off fast food forever all while we walk on a treadmill! We decide to change behaviors all in an attempt to answer that annoying inner voice that’s nagging us to be better.
To be honest, I quit making New Year’s resolutions because the list barely made it to March before it ended in the trash! I set my goals so high that an Olympic athlete or Mother Teresa wouldn’t have been able to succeed. I decided to set one goal daily - to be better than the day before at something. I’m not talking about huge feats of greatness but little adjustments even if it’s in my attitude…um, maybe that’s a huge feat, after all! If I can improve at being a Christian, in some capacity, then I can have the discipline it takes to do some of the things I don’t like doing.
The odd thing about Christianity is that it takes an ability to look both inward and outward in order to grow. To be better we have to look inward but to be even better we must look outward. The only reason for self-improvement is to be ready and able to serve others. If we are striving for “the mark of the high calling of Christ” then we are striving to be like Him…a servant. I promise it’s in the Bible and I didn’t make it up!
We live in a world that is flooded with self-serving, self-absorbed and thus, self-sabotaging messages and unfortunately, it has crept into our churches. Self-sacrifice is meant for our new year’s lists but never makes it to March - it sounds good in theory but not in practice. Why? BECAUSE IT IS HARD!
It’s hard to deny SELF! It wants cookies not carrots! It wants mind-numbing television with someone’s reality that looks better or worse than our own. It wants a soothing gospel that costs us little instead of the one that costs us everything. Self is like a hoarder that wants to keep the junk so it can keep the excuses but it’s time to clean out the garage, the closets and the storage room. It’s a great winter project - empty out the trash and then, maybe God can have some breathing room!
We all want “more of God” but we have to do the work to make “less of me”. It won’t happen overnight but making it a priority will yield better results than all the starvation diets I’ve been gone on combined!
Saint Francis said, “You are that which you are seeking.” That said, let’s ask ourselves every day, “Who am I?” The answer should be fairly obvious.