2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
We talk a lot about doing right by others, all year long. Recently, I’ve talked and blogged frequently about doing right by ourselves so that we can move forward with confidence.
The new year is always full of resolutions and promises to be a better husband or wife, to eat better, to visit your elderly parents more, to stop procrastinating in school or work, and more. The first week of the year always has record numbers of people showing up at gyms, and banks report that a lot of people show up to discuss finances, set up savings accounts, and get their personal affairs in order. Of course, none of this lasts into the rest of the year. And why? Why don’t people keep up personal disciplines? It feels good. It sets the right path for more improved behaviors. Yet, knowing all that, most of us can’t maintain it.
Spiritually, we often do feel centered most of the time with little to no issues with how we feel about God or with very few breaks in our worship patterns and schedules. If we are churchgoers, we stay churchgoers. What does happen, however, is a sort of stagnation. While we might be involved in ministry or in outreach through the church, we only go so far in terms of truly reaching a level of edification—of bettering our fellow man or woman—of taking the outreach a step further to actually understand what people need from the church or from others involved in ministry.
As a pastor, people come to me for many reasons. I see a lot of desperation, and I hear a lot of “I didn’t know what else to do,” “This has gone on long enough,” or “I need some outside advice.” This is all pretty common. People seek advice when they have nowhere else to go. We can’t always see what is good for us, so sometimes we need to bounce ideas off others.
But like Timothy says, we have to present ourselves to God and to others as those who are not vain, insensitive, or on a destructive pathway. So rather than strictly relying on advice from others and staying stagnant with the same old routine, we need to remember the ways we can raise up those who are down. We can edify people in need of support, reassuring them that they are talented, needed, and desired contributors to the church, family, or community. We can reassure them they mean something in God’s Plan. As individuals and as a church, we can do more than reach out. We can do more than get our personal affairs in order and help others to do the same; we can show, by example, the Way of the Lord and the pathway to all that is good in life. Now, these are some substantial New Year’s Resolutions!