We stand at the cusp of closing one year and moving into a new one, and this time often produces reflection and goal setting. Unfortunately, most of the "new year's resolutions" end in abysmal failure - some studies have indicated that as many as 80% of those resolutions fail and then claim that we should abandon any such practice. Let's stop there. Just because there has been failure, does it mean that we should throw the "baby out with the bathwater"? Should we really stop goal-setting or making resolutions? I think not and will explain further below by looking at something that jumped off the page at me from Luke 21.
Jesus, however, focused on this widow - the poorest and most vulnerable of all society - as she gave all that she had. After commenting, He offers a glimpse into the future as the Temple would be destroyed and started describing the "signs of those times." He also mentioned that many of those hearing His words would face difficulty because they loved Him BUT that these times would give them an opportunity to speak of what Jesus means to them.
No, that is not the focus of this blog; yet, something He said near the end of the discourse is. In Luke 21:34 (NASB), He says: "Be on guard so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life." What in the world does all of this mean? Context matters as Jesus is offering them perspective and encouragement as commentary about the collapse of the Temple would have created a foreboding mood. Before we comment and apply, let's look at some terms:
All of this is to point out a very simple fact - if it creates a burden, alters our focus, and leaves us with a hangover, then we need to avoid it. The call here is for us to know what is most important (the immediately preceding verse speaks of the eternality of God's truth) and keep our focus right there. The clarion call here to our hearts and minds is to determine the items of true value in life and devote our time, talent, and treasure to fostering that true value. Anything else is a burden, an intoxicant, a distraction, or a worry.
How does this apply to the end of one year and start of the next? Reflection on goals and our yearly accomplishments are good things for us to do. I would challenge you, however, to look at what you gave compared to what you withheld. Were you like the rich giving to appear generous or were you holding nothing back? Did you have your focus and pride on something that will soon fade away? Only you can answer those questions, but I urge you to heed the call of Jesus - examine your past year and see where you spent your time? Was it on the right things? When you answer "no" (and you will if you are honest), then what commitments do you need to make for the upcoming year?
Free yourself by focusing yourself. Name what THE MOST IMPORTANT things are for you to do every, single day. Commit to those for a full year and amazement will hit you on December 31! Only when you surrender the unimportant do you have a chance to succeed on the most important. William Borden was a millionaire and heir to his family's fortune, but he surrendered it all. He wanted to go to the mission field but died in Egypt before he got there. He wrote these words in his Bible - "No reserve. No retreat. No regrets." Live your life each moment without distractions, without burdens, and without lost time. You get one chance at life, so make it worthwhile.
Today, identify what you need to give up so that you can gain...