Planning for the new year is more tempting. By the will of God, and with His help, I want to more effectively live for Christ. I want to do things that count, not only in this life, but that make a difference in eternity. I’d like to genuinely say the same thing as Paul wrote:
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. (Philippians 1:21-22)These are noble words. Are they for everyone? Paul had a different calling from mine. He was told by Jesus Christ to preach the gospel to the Jews first, then the Gentiles. He was called to travel all over the known world and make Christ known.
My calling is more like, “As you live in this world, make disciples and teach them what I have taught you.”
I’ve learned that I cannot push myself on others. I teach a ladies Bible study but cannot make them come. Besides that, other forms of discipleship depend on the opportunities that God gives, and they happen every day. In fact, every time I open my mouth I am leaving people with an impression, whether I or they are conscious of it or not. Because of God’s grace, my life is a representation of Christ.
This reality could be a “pressure to perform” but I’ve learned that while living for Christ is made of many conscious choices, it is also a natural thing. It is as Paul said, living in the flesh (which in this case means simply being alive) means spiritual fruit.
In other words, those who are Christian, at times, cannot help but be like Jesus. If I choose obedience and am not acting like an idiot, the One who is my life will produce spiritual fruit in my attitudes, words and actions. Ministry to others might be a labor at times, but the production of attitudes like love, joy, and peace are the work of the Holy Spirit. I make no effort to produce that kind of fruit. It comes from Him.
He also says I should not heavily plan my words, but let the Spirit give me what to say. Even so, words and actions require effort and choice. Otherwise, I would silently do my own thing and not get involved in spiritual living or caring about others. I might seem happy, but living just for me has no impact on the eternal well-being of others.
I’m also noticing that as I grow older, making “resolutions” comes with less excited zeal than it once did. Today I am more aware of choice, regardless of enthusiasm. Each day comes with varying opportunities, but before they come, I know I must have my mind set to do God’s will, whether or not I’m emotionally driven. “Being” is the root of “doing.”
O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come. (Psalm 71:17-18)