Another Christmas season is behind us and a new year ahead. What differences will be made this year? What plans are afoot already? How many times have you said ’I’m going to achieve something this year.’ We all do those things from time to time but have we ever stopped to consider what God has to say about our plans? When we make resolutions, are we doing it in line with what God has revealed in his Word?
There were two passages that came to mind whilst thinking on this topic. The first is in James 4 it says ‘13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”’
This is a particularly grounding couple of verses at this time of year. We can make plans, yes, but the reality is that we don’t know whether they will happen or not, this passage points out that we can’t even accurately predict what will happen tomorrow! I mean, isn’t that why we put our washing out sometimes and then it gets rained on, the weather prediction was wrong again!! What this passage does show though, is we need to rely on God and if it is his will then it will come to fruition. If we make our own plans without thinking of God, then we will be missing the point of being in a relationship with him.
The second passage that came to mind and I think compliments this quite well comes from Matthew 6 it says, ‘33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’
The preceding part of the chapter lists things that we tend to worry about, such as money, clothes, food. It also has the challenge of devotion, you can’t serve two masters, you are either devoted to God or money. The last thing to notice in the passage is that in v32 Jesus says, ‘the pagans run after these things’, which is significant when we look to our new year targets. The difference between a Christian and a ‘pagan’ is what they seek and look to for joy.
Having these two passages in mind I think we can be encouraged in this way- don’t worry about setting goals and targets. We don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, but what we do know is this; if we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, all these things will be given to you as well. So, our joy is not fulfilled in chasing things, like the pagans, but it is fulfilled in chasing and seeking God in all things. The difference between the disciple and the ‘non-disciple’ (pagan) is what they spend their time pursuing.
So, this new year, when it comes to setting yourselves some targets to achieve, may I suggest this; each day, you seek God first and foremost and ask yourself this question, how can I best glorify God and set myself apart from the ‘pagans’ who chase material things? Then you may well find yourself more fulfilled by the Creator than the created.