Let me start this week by saying Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I pray that everyone reading this has a fantastic holiday and that the new year finds you happier and healthier than the previous.
Speaking of the new year, many of us approach the end of one year by making plans for the one to come. We call them “New Year’s resolutions,” but what they are is goals that we want to accomplish in the coming year. In many ways, none of us can know what the coming year will bring (James 4:13-15), but there is nothing wrong with planning for things that we would like to happen – Lord willing.
So, here are a few suggestions for goals to add to your New Year’s resolutions that will make 2016 the best year it can possibly be.
Goals for personal growth in the coming year
The most important goal any of us can make for ourselves for the coming year is to strive to be more like Christ next year than I have been this year. All of our other goals will be dependent on the importance we place on this one.
Jesus commanded that we strive to become more and more like Him (Luke 6:40-41). He still desires all men to be His disciples and follow Him in their manner of life (Matthew 28:19-20). The purpose of God’s scheme of redemption is to make people more like Christ (Romans 8:29-30; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:9-11). What more important goal could there be than to actively work on making myself closer to the image of Christ!
In order to meet that goal, I have to make another in conjunction with it. That being, to grow in the knowledge of Christ in the coming year. This is essential to keeping the first goal.
To be Christlike I must know what Christ was like. The only place to find that information and learn how to put into practice in my life is in God’s holy word – the Bible.
The apostle Peter exhorts to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). This isn’t simply an intellectual knowledge – just knowing what it says. Peter had said earlier in the same letter, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, to brotherly kindness, love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).
Notice the emphasis on knowledge all through this passage. This is a practical knowledge – a knowledge that comes from experience and application. The kind of knowledge that will help us be more like Christ is not something we just know and never use. We have to put it into practice and actively look for ways to apply this knowledge to our lives.
Being more like Christ, through a greater knowledge of His word, means that we will be better able to use our God-given abilities to serve His will. This is another of the greatest goals we could have on our list – find ways to actively serve the will of God.
Even in the church community, the Bible puts an emphasis on the individual. We must individually look for ways to serve God (Ephesians 4:12, 16). We were created, and given the abilities we have, for a specific purpose.
“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
If we are not actively looking for ways to serve God then we are not fulfilling the purpose of our creation! That would be a lofty goal for 2016, wouldn’t it. “In 2016 I’m going to fulfill the meaning of my life.” We can do it when we realize that my all – my purpose of being – is to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
If we put these three things at the top of our “New Year’s Resolutions” – Be more like Christ, Learn more of His word, Serve God’s will – then whatever follows will only be made fuller and more fruitful.
Again, I pray that you all have a great Christmas and New Year! We would love the opportunity to help you achieve these goals for 2016. Come visit, we would love to hear from you.
Norm Fields is the minister for the Church of Christ Northside meeting at 1101 Hogansville Road in LaGrange. He may be reached at 706-812-9950 or [email protected]