Note from Elihu: I’m sure many of you have already made your goals, but if you’re like me, the goals get re-evaluated frequently. This post applies to any time we make plans or goals or even dream dreams. I hope your year is off to a lovely start! May God bless you with grace and peace.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. (Prov. 4.23)
2018 has arrived, and the time for “resolutions” and “goal setting” is at hand. Motivation experts beckon, diet plans await, but before you ever put pen to paper, take a moment to reflect on the state of your heart:
- Who or what do I value most?
- In the past year, have I truly loved God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? In what ways have I demonstrated this?
- Am I loving others or trying to out-do them?
- Am I regularly communicating with God through prayer and study, or have I allowed other things to get in the way?
- Is the state of my health/finances/career ordered in such a way as to serve God, or is it self-serving?
We are blessed to live in a time and place where we have the opportunity to invest in valuable pursuits—good stewardship of our money, healthy living, intellectual advancement—but why do we pursue these things? Do these things matter more to us than our relationship with God or are we doing these things in order to serve Him better?
A heart primarily centered on “service,” may sacrifice the needs of their family to serve “the greater good.” I’ve seen missionaries, preachers, and teachers move mountains while their own families disintegrate, ultimately undoing much of the good they had sought to achieve.
A heart primarily centered on worldly success will either set God aside for a more “convenient” time or attempt to “use” Him as a means to an end. Some politicians claim to be Christians while committing adultery, lying, and cheating. Remember also the parable of the rich fool who planned to build bigger barns for all his goods and then died that very night without God in his life. Jesus concluded the parable by saying, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
A heart centered on Christ puts people and things in their proper place, blessing us with peace that passes understanding. A heart centered on Christ finds the balance between serving others and caring for family. It might achieve great things and keep them in perspective or it might simply serve in the background, rejoicing to support others in doing great things. It does not seek self-improvement as a way to diminish the value of others, but seeks to carry others with them towards improvement.
Jesus came to earth to “show us the Father” and “to seek and save the lost.” In becoming an imitator of Christ, we shine His light by the way we live, the choices we make, and the goals we set. Like Jesus, it should be our aim to seek out the lost and bring them the message of salvation.
With all these things in mind, how should we set about keeping our heart centered on the Savior while we make our plans for 2018?