Forget New Year resolutions, those false declarations most of us walk away from within hours, days at the most, of making them. Forget those things that lead to devilish levels of guilt, condemnation and fear of having fallen short of some phony and arbitrary level of accomplishment, meaningless in the Master’s plan. Most of us find we can’t achieve these things on our own until all the negativity associated with falling short has struck us like a lightning bolt!
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:34
My treasured and beloved wife, Sandy has always had the best attitude about resolutions and encapsulates it nicely by saying that she has but one resolution she makes every year: “I resolve not to make any New Years resolutions!” She always manages to keep it, too.
It occurs to me that one of the worst things that can be said of anyone, but particularly of a Christian, is that they are a hypocrite. Resolutions and open declarations made by those claiming to be Christians always make them targets of opportunity to a world (you’ll forgive the expression) “hell-bent” on exposing them in what is a usually relativistic sort of way. Absolutes never work in the world. This world’s prince won’t allow it and this is the Christian’s daily battle.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12
Here is my Ground Zero for the coming year. No, it is not a resolution. It is an act of recognition that those with whom I have had difficulties with in the past, harbored grudges against, even clung to some degree of anger and hatred toward are not my problem any longer. Not the man who had acted in a way consistent with road-rage, nor the man who accused me of stealing his latte today, when the barista mistakenly handed me his drink when he walked away from the bar. Not those who think that my manner of dress in church, or way of teaching should disqualify me as an elder in my church.
None of these folks should merit anything more than my prayers for their happiness, and that they would, if they have not already, come to the knowledge and love of the truth of my Lord Jesus who loves me just as unconditionally as we should love one another.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Matthew 5:21-22
Make no mistake-what Jesus said above is not a matter of sin by degree. One is just as bad as another and the result of acting in anger ALWAYS has a negative consequence. Look at what Jesus just said. He elevated an act of anger to the same severity as murder!
Think of all the wars you ever heard of, every argument you ever had with anyone, every time you chewed out an employee (or fantasized about chewing one out, or your boss, for that matter), every time you see a news report about a crime or a person with which you vehemently disagreed.
The only one justified in any act of anger is the One who created everything and gave us the freedom to choose how we respond to things, and to Him. I’m not talking about righteous indignation. I am talking about thoughts and acts of rage that expose us to worldly epithets like “two-faced” and “hypocrite”. These things provide the target-rich environment that the world craves.
We are the Lord’s first responders to the hurting of the world. Remember, hurting people hurt people. Intentionally or not, it is so. We contribute nothing by judging the hurt and suffering of others, yet it is the thing we as Christians do most readily, I’m afraid.
I, like all of us, have many faults and I will be working on them with God’s help until He calls me home. As a tourist in this place it’s best for me to just get along and show everyone love and respect. Life is easier, and far less complex this way. Who needs a complicated life anyway?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Well, dear reader, here’s the plan. Simplify life, walk in love, don’t speak or do anything in anger.
Love one another.