If there is a choice between something old and something new, I would guess many of us would choose new.
I love and appreciate historic and classic things, but there's just something about driving a new car, using new technology, wearing new clothes or moving into a new home. What may be one of the most "under-appreciated" new things in life is the new life in Christ.
Maybe I'm just speaking for myself, having received Jesus over twenty years ago, and maybe I am the only one who has from time to time missed that "new life in Christ smell" (or excitement). But if you have been struggling to fully appreciate your "new" life because you haven't completely left the "old," then refer back to the first article in this series, "Lead a Life Worthy of Your Calling: The Old Has Gone."
In the first part of this series, we found in order to live a life worthy of the calling God has called us (Ephesians 4:1), we must rid ourselves of and forget about those things which have been an obstruction in our lives.
If anyone is in Christ, the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17).
As a new creation, our purpose changes, our perspective of life changes and our desires change, or at least they should.
The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfections and meditating in his Temple (Psalms 27:4).
If we are a new creation in Christ, our desire is to seek being in the presence of the Lord and delighting in his perfections, not struggling over our imperfections. This is the "new" life God has for us.
We Need to CHOOSE Wisely
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42).
In this familiar passage, Jesus goes to visit with Mary and Martha. Martha, being the consummate host, chooses to spend her time doing things for the Lord while Mary chooses to spend time with the Lord. When Martha complains to Jesus about Mary not helping her out, Jesus reprimands Martha for her choice and instructs her that Mary had chosen the better thing to do.
Throughout our lives, most of us know what we should do—right versus wrong, better versus getting-by, now versus later. Sometimes we don't make the best choice because we are more concerned with what others will think, how we may look or because we don't feel like it. At other times, we may be so busy just "doing," we lose focus on doing what is better.
One reason for "failed" New Year's resolutions or any ambition may be because we don't consult with God for what he wants for us. We may "think" we know what is best (for ourselves and others), and we have good intentions for wanting (or doing) "it." But if we don't ask God first, we are doing it alone.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).
The new year (or anytime) should not be about making resolutions (or goals) and trying to attain them (Martha-like), we should resolve to alter what we do and how we think in order to achieve and lead our life worthy of what we were called to do. And one of those things, one of the better things, is spending more time with the Lord (Mary-like), allowing him to set your path straight.
Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).
We Need to DO Expediently
One lesson I have learned by reading the Bible is God doesn't encourage us to "try" or "consider doing" something; he tells us to "Go," "Seek," "Make," etc. He commands us to "Do."
Over my many years of list-making and "resolution-breaking," I have discovered something to be more important than compiling a complete list of heartfelt tasks to accomplish, making a detailed plan of how to realize my goals, and convincing myself of the benefits of reaching my aspiration. My revelation can be best summed up in a phrase by an infamous common "working man," Larry the Cable Guy.
Larry the Cable Guy, for those who aren't familiar, is the stage name of a character created by stand-up comedian Daniel Whitney who coined the phrase. It has since become a Southern colloquialism meaning to finish an action or get the job done.
Even now as I write this article and contemplate my list of things that need to be taken care of, I purposely listen for "Larry's catch phrase" ringing in my ears—"Git-er-Done." I find myself to be so much more effective and successful when I take note of Larry's voice instead of my own.
Whenever the thought of a task is quickly followed by an excuse, denial or blame, I know I'm in trouble.
Have you ever asked a friend, co-worker, or family member (even yourself) why something isn't completed and the first words you heard were, "I was going to, but. …" "I was, before ‘so-and-so.'…" "I can't right now because. ..." "I'll do it when. ..." The most popular "resolution" every year is to lose weight and get in shape; yet months or even weeks later many have given up ... and for a number of "good reasons." The same thing "happens" for many Christians who are determined to have a better prayer and devotional life. Don't wait, don't blame, don't make excuses, and don't allow the busyness of life to get in the way with doing what we need to do. We all have hundreds of things on our list each day, and the only way to get through them is to do them.
God doesn't say, "When you get around to it, go and make disciples", "Knock when you get the chance, and the door will be opened", "Seek whenever and my kingdom will be given." He commands us to "Go now", "Knock now", and "Seek now." Great intentions don't complete tasks, doing them does, so just "Git-er-Done."
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:8-9).
God has given us all a gift—the gift of life and the gift of salvation. He has blessed us with amazing abilities and incredible opportunities, some of which many of us have not even tapped into. Some approach life and each day as something just to "get through" rather than as God desires—an opportunity to grow closer to him and utilize the blessings he has given us to touch others.
We don't understand his ways, nor can we comprehend his timing. We cannot fathom what our Father knows or has planned for each of us, but he has been patient with us as we try to figure it out and live it out.
Don't allow the disappointments of yesteryears squander more time or rob you of the blessings of today. Don't allow the memories of the past cause you from stepping out and living in the present. God wants us to spend time with him and to do those things he commands us to and the only way to accomplish these things (along with all of the other "life" stuff), is to not be complacent and to do them, no excuses.
If we view every challenge as an opportunity to serve him rather than seeing every opportunity as a challenge, we will grow closer to him and have no regrets at the end of the year or at the end of our lives.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to [email protected].
**This article first published on February 17, 2011.