I’m always excited for when a new year begins! I love to think about goals for the upcoming year. For me, it’s a time of introspection—a time for reviewing, refocusing, and renewing. I review the past year to see where I’m on track and where I’m off track. I refocus by reevaluating goals and life direction based on some guiding Bible verses like 1 Corinthians 10:31, Deuteronomy 6, Mark 12:28-34, and Matthew 28:16-20. Then, I renew by writing new goals and resolutions and start plans to fulfill them.
Often, we can get in the rut of making all of our goals and resolutions individual-oriented. Individual goals are important but we can also use this time of year to consider goals and resolutions that are relationally-oriented. First, you can consider your relationship with God. Are you as close to the Lord as He would like you to be right now? Unconfessed sin always leads us to distance ourselves from the Lord. However, listen to God’s promise, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Ask the Holy Spirit to show you of any sin or activity that is causing a distance between you and God. Confess it and draw near to the Lord.
Second, you can consider your relationship with your family. Husbands and fathers, are you sacrificially leading your own families to love and know the Lord as Jesus does the church (Eph 5:25-33)? Wives, are you respecting and helping your husbands as the church does Christ (Eph 5:22-24, 33)? Parents, are you instructing your children in the ways of the Lord? Consider the command God gives parents, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. And you shall repeat them diligently to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down, and when you get up” (Dt 6:6-7; also see Eph. 6:4). Children, are you honoring and obeying your parents as the Lord commands (Ex. 20:12; Eph 6:1-3)? This is a wonderful time of year to recommit to loving your family in the way God guides us to.
Third, we can consider our relationship with our church family. This year has been particularly hard for churches due to the pandemic. However, the start of the New Year is a good time to consider a few questions: Am I praying for my church regularly? Is there some action I can take or commitment I can make to edify my church? Is there someone in my church with whom I need to seek reconciliation? Is there someone in my church I can encourage or comfort by reaching out to him or her? Paul says to the church of Philippi, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:1-5). This is a good time of year to renew our commitments to each other as a church in the Lord.
Fourth, you can consider your relationship with the lost. Were you praying for someone who needed salvation over the last year? Did you get to share with them? Is there someone for whom you need to begin praying for their salvation? Is there someone you can commit to share the gospel with this year? We are not responsible to make someone believe but we are responsible to the Lord to share others and invite them to believe in Jesus. Jesus said to His church, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Who will you witness to in 2021?
Fifth, we can consider our relationship with our community. How can you honor the Lord in your relationships with neighbors, coworkers, and others in Buchanan County and the surrounding counties? God desires that His people are good citizens wherever they live or sojourn. God told Israel when they were exiled in Babylon, they were to “Seek the prosperity of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord in its behalf; for in its prosperity will be your prosperity’” (Jer 29:7) and Paul urged “that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made in behalf of all people, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:1-4). How can you, your family, and our church family bless our community?
May God bless you and your relationships in 2021!