How was your year in 2013? Would you describe it as a good year or a bad year? Did you achieve most of your goals? Are you a better person now than you were last year? Are you smarter and wiser, do you have greater self-control, and have you improved on your flaws?
I know it can be hard to sum up an entire year as good or bad because so many events happen to us over the course of a year. Some go as we planned, a few go better than we planned, and some blindside us and knock us down. Every so often events lean heavily in one direction and you may say “I had a great year” or “I had a terrible year.” However, most years come and go without anything standing out to make them one way or the other.
We can also misjudge the quality of a year by using faulty logic and values. For example, one might say he had a great year because of a new job or promotion and this may indeed be reason to celebrate. On the other hand, would it be a great year if this new position takes you away from your family and you lose your wife and children? If you ask a husband, who married in 2013, about last year; he had better say it was a great year. But what if he married a non-Christian who is leading him away from Christ; would it be a wonderful year?
The problem with the way we judge events is that we often do not see the whole picture or how the actions of the past will eventually affect us. We look to the present and how we feel now about what is going on. Consider the year Job had. He first lost his wealth, then his children, and finally his own health. His wife and friends turned against him. While we do not know exactly how long Job suffered, there is some evidence it lasted for months. It got so bad that he said, “May the day perish on which I was born.” Yet today we know Job as a great man of patience and integrity, whom God blessed richly after his ordeal.
If you spend time evaluating your past, and I believe we should all do that, then it is good to think about the way your past influences your present and future. Consider where you are with your family and friends. Think about your job and how you approach work. Past choices and actions have something to do with where you are in all of these. By understanding the effects of our own history we can take sound measures to improve our present.
While looking back on 2013 has some limited value, I should focus most on the present. Whatever I am because of my past, I can make changes today that will help me to become a better person. We do this by working one day at a time, day in and day out, through each week, month, and year. So if you want to have a great 2014, then purpose in your heart to serve God. Stay focused on your goal and be consistent in your service.
Plan to have a good year in the areas you can control. You decide what to think about, what is going to come out of your mouth, and the way you will treat others. You choose how important your family is to you, the love and respect you give to your spouse, and the way you act toward your children or parents. When you do right by others, then the issues you do not control have less impact on the quality of your time. Purpose in your heart to treat people well, stay focused on your goal even when they do not treat you that way, and stay consistent.
If you want to have a great 2014, then purpose in your heart to pray every day. It is not a bad idea to set a regular schedule during the day for prayer. This way you have a measurable goal to judge your consistency.
If you want to have a great 2014, then purpose in your heart to read and study the Bible every day. I know many people follow a yearly schedule for reading the Bible and that is great. Again, this gives you a measurable goal to judge. However, reading is not enough for us to grow as God wants. We should set aside time to study and meditate on His Word.
If you want to have a great 2014, then purpose in your heart to teach others about Christ. This is where studying and meditating helps because they help us grow to a point where we can teach others. I would again encourage you to set measurable goals, like I am going to talk to at least one person about Christ this week.
If you want to have a great 2014, then attend services faithfully and actively join in worship and classes. Keep a calendar and mark down when you miss and when you attend. When you miss, you might want to write down why you did not go.
If you want to have a great 2014, then do acts of kindness and benevolence. You need to purpose in your heart to show compassion to others by what you say and do. You will find many opportunities for doing good, and I would encourage you to keep up with your progress.
How good is 2014 going to be to me? I do not know what 2014 is going to bring, but if I serve God faithfully and grow spiritually then this year will be a great year. I can deal with all the hardships of life if I keep my faith in Christ.