We’re a month into the New Year. How are your New Year’s Resolutions turning out? This year, I have been remarkably consistent: I made five resolutions; I failed five resolutions. Maybe your record is different, and you’ve been making progress. You look back at your resolutions and you wonder, “Why didn’t I do this earlier?” Maybe you hate the idea of resolutions in the first place and say, “If it was a good idea in the first place, I shouldn’t need a New Year to start doing it.”
Whatever your attitude toward resolutions, life is full of good intentions. We want to exercise, pray, eat right, spend time with family, worship regularly, kick a bad habit, invite company over, keep the house clean so we can invite company over, go on a mission trip, manage our temper, donate to charity, read the Bible, get a raise, get to work on time, learn a new language, learn an instrument, lose weight, stop procrastinating, sleep more… the list could go on and on. And these are all good ideas, all worthy pursuits. It’s almost like there are too many good ideas.
How many of these good intentions do we actually achieve in life? How do you pick where to spend precious time, money, and energy? Is it okay to stop sleeping in order to exercise more? Is it okay to eat ramen every meal in order to get out of debt? The right answer to this kind of question is not always clear. But these are the kind of choices we make all the time.
Sometimes, we realize that we are making this kind of choice. We commit to spend more time with our kids, knowing that our job performance may suffer. We commit to eating more nutritious meals, knowing that it might be more expensive or time-consuming.
Other times, though, we make a choice, only to realize the consequences afterward. We commit to exercise more regularly, only to realize that we no longer have time for our hobbies. We buy our dream house, only to realize that we don’t have the time to clean a house of that size.
Whether or not we realize the impact of our resolutions, they have consequences. If we hit week two of the new year and are already burnt out—or month two of our resolutions without progress—it can be so demoralizing that we give up. Good intentions are often not enough. Life pulls in too many different directions.
When we realize this, we are left with a choice. Do we accept this dilemma and live according to our priorities and limitations? Or will we live week to week, however feels good at the time? If your good intentions seldom turn into good actions, if you feel pulled in too many directions, or if you are simply burnt out by trying so hard all the time—especially if some of your failed good intentions have to do with your faith—hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 6, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Jesus’ words have wisdom. Why is it that some of your intentions see fruition and others don’t? You chose to seek them first. You consciously or unconsciously made them a priority. Don’t let your faith become a failed good intention. As the first commandment says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” That includes our other good intentions, whether work or exercise or anything else. This year, let’s make faithfulness a conscious choice, not an unconscious one. Let’s make prayer a priority. And let’s cut those things out that prevent us from living the life we want to live. Let’s have no other gods before Him. Let’s worship Him with our words and actions. And let’s find out just what He means when he says, “all these things will be added to you.”
God’s Peace, Pastor Josh Reifsteck