Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. – Psalm 139:23
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. – 1 Corinthians 13:12
You’re hearing less from me this holiday season because I, like you, am caught up in the hubbub of it all. I’m having way too much fun with family and friends to spend much time writing, and you’re having way too much fun with family and friends to spend much time reading what I write. Thus I’m doing us both a service. You’re welcome.
In the midst of our hubbub, between all the shopping and all the cooking and all the visits and all the parties, we should stop and take a moment for self-reflection. Let’s evaluate the past year.
- Your walk: Did you step up your relationship with Christ? Did you plateau? Worse yet, did you backslide? Are you spending time regularly (daily is best) in His Word and in prayer? Are you making any attempt to memorize Scripture? Are the words of your mouth and the meditations of your heart pleasing to Him, or would you prefer Jesus not be an audience to your thoughts and words?
- Your witness: Are you actively living out your faith? Are you making the most of every opportunity to give a reason for the hope that is within you? In other words, are you making a difference for Christ in your world? If the people around you – your family, your friends, your coworkers – were to name the one thing that compels you, would it be Jesus? If not, what would it be?
- Your ministry: Are you serving somewhere in some capacity? Are you making the most of your spiritual gifts? If you haven’t identified your spiritual gifts, you can easily find a spiritual gifts assessment online, or you can ask your pastor or a trusted counselor for help.
- Your money: Have you ever done a breakdown by percentage of where your money goes? Jesus nailed it when He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Do a quick survey of your finances, and see where supporting your local church and other ministries fits in. It can be a pretty humbling exercise.
- Your relationships: How have your relationships grown or devolved over the past year? Are you committing interpersonal struggles regularly to prayer, responding in a Christ-honoring way and addressing conflict from a biblical perspective? Are you showing grace and forgiving as you have been forgiven, or are you clinging to your self-righteous indignation as if it’s a favorite pet? Our horizontal – aka human – relationships are an excellent indicator of the state of our vertical – aka spiritual – relationships. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Go back and reread 1 Corinthians 13 the next time you get frustrated with a loved one. Then try to live it out.
I remember a cereal jingle with the memorable line, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” It’s the last day of the year, but it can be the first day of a renewed commitment to Christ. Finish the year strong. Start the new year stronger. Here’s to a spiritually prosperous 2015, my friends!