New Year’s can be a wonderful time of change and opportunity. We enter this year loved by God, empowered by the Spirit and on a mission from Jesus. Early each December, I give much reflection and prayer to how I will start the new year.
The following are four of eight principles that have been helpful to me in beginning the year.
I am going to use the image of a house in describing each one of these principles. Maybe one or more of these will be helpful to you.
Inspect the condition of your house (James 1:22-25)
Some of you know what it is like to look for a house to buy. You look at various houses to see if you “like” any of them. At some point, you are not only concerned about whether or not you like the house but also what shape the house is in. If you were to inspect the condition of a house, you might first walk around it and survey the outside and then survey the inside. You might take a look at the paint, the roof, the gutters, and the foundation.
The first of the year is an excellent time to inspect the condition of your life. How is the foundation of your life? How are the significant pieces of your life? How are your character, your ethics, your habits, your relationships?
As you think about where to begin addressing the status of your life, you might consider starting with the obvious. Is there an area of your life that very clearly needs to change? Perhaps this is an intention, a habit, or a behavior in your life that is foreign to the character of God.
Again, you might start with what is obvious and apparent to you.
Be willing to repair and even remodel (Luke 6:46-49)
Some areas of my life need to be repaired. After all, duct tape doesn’t fix everything! Sometimes you need to really address an issue of your life and not just put a piece of tape over it and think it will go away.
In fact, some areas of life need to be remodeled.
We stayed in a house during Christmas that was not far from my brother and sister-in-law’s home. Because of the size of our family, we needed to be in two houses. The bedroom we were in was very nice. In fact, it looked new. At one point, Charlotte said she thought they were remodeling and that our bedroom and one or two other rooms had been finished but the remainder of the bedrooms still needed much work.
For example, a marriage can become cold and stale. Yet, together you and your spouse can declare, “By the grace of God, we want to remodel this.” Part of my obedience to the Lord Jesus is to be willing to address the areas in my life that really do need attention. You say, “Where do we start?” You start by making the first move.
My own selfishness. I can decide that things are going to be the way I like them. Everyone else needs to fall into line.
Think about what needs to be remodeled in your life. To accept the status quo and continue on as is will cost you a great deal in the long run.
Consider your lawn (Galatians 6:7-8)
My yard needs work. Yes I mow it, but it needs work. In fact, there are a number of things our front yard needs. It will never look better, however, until I put more time and energy into caring for it. What you sow is what you reap.
Some of us, however, seem to think we can get around this basic life principle.
- Surely I can avoid disciplining my children and they will still be well-behaved and polite.
- Surely I can spend money for whatever I want and still have money to give generously and pay for the things that are really important.
- Surely I can rarely be at church, rarely open my Bible, and rarely pray and still be a godly person.
- Surely I can make decisions that put other things before Jesus and my kids will still be godly.
What am I sowing?
- Am I sowing, in my marriage, loyalty, gentleness, and affection?
- Am I sowing, in my family, time, tenderness and attention?
- Am I sowing, in my home, honesty, integrity, and, most of all, Jesus?
- Am I sowing, in my life, sexual purity, financial honesty, and truthfulness?
Do something (Luke 6:46-49)
You can destroy a house in time by doing nothing to it. Don’t repair. Don’t fix. Don’t maintain. Just let it go. Yes, there is normal wear and tear on a house. That is not the problem. The problem is a failure to do anything.
Sometimes we have problems or issues in our lives and we talk about them without ever taking action.
What is there in my life that needs action? What do I need to do?
Which one of these principles do you find particularly helpful? Why?