The first month of the new year is behind us! It is typically this time of year that most people’s New Year’s resolutions have fallen face down in the mud. It’s also the time that those of us who have made spiritual commitments experience a waning in motivation based on the first few setbacks. Maybe you committed to a daily Bible reading plan. Perhaps you decided to pray for someone every day. Or maybe you’re finally fighting an addiction that has always drawn your attention away from God. Whatever your decision to draw close to God is, it probably involves some discipline. Anything that requires discipline certainly involves setbacks and likely failure. That being said, I would like to offer four encouragements to those of you whose resolve in spiritual commitments is weakening:
The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” The more Godly things in which you fall short, the greater the opportunity to bow to Jesus in thankfulness that He called you to Himself, a weak sinner. The weaker you know yourself to be, the stronger you know the cross to be.
King David writes, “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’ As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight” (Psalm 16:2-3). God did not call Christians to a life of isolation. He gave them a family of faith to lean on. He gave brothers and sisters to co-labor with them. If God is calling you to commit to a certain spiritual discipline, you are probably not the only one. Find other godly men or women and ask if they would join you in your commitment to God.
I love the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) and how a rebellious son comes home and his father runs to embrace him. Remember that you are a beloved child of God. No matter how much you have walked away from Him, He is ready to run to you! No matter how little time you have given Him thus far, God is sitting on the edge of His seat waiting to spend time with you.
More than once, Jesus’ own apostles argued over which of them was the greatest (Luke 9:46-48 & 22:24-30). To say the least, Jesus was not impressed. Though it is wise to discern when a brother is in error or is living in sin, it is sinful to judge a brother with weak faith (Romans 14:10-12). I would also argue that it is sinful to be discouraged by stronger faith. We are meant to be encouraged by stronger Christians, not discouraged. Being discouraged by stronger Christians implies jealousy of their abilities, not desire for Christ. Encourage and motivate those who are weaker. Be encouraged and motivated by those who are stronger.
I am so excited for a new year as as a pastor. I am so excited about a new year for my readers to give God glory. Just remember, His grace is sufficient for you. Don't give up!
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