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.