The New Year is traditionally a time for new or renewed commitments. January is the busiest month of the year for gyms and health clubs . . . and February is often the quietest! New diets are typically added to personal fitness goals, and then perhaps there are personal productivity targets, or family scheduling ideals, etc.
In the church we can join in with another whole set of renewed commitments and resolutions – attendance goals, Bible reading goals, personal growth goals. I am sure most of us would be better off with improved Bible reading habits, prayer times, replacing internet “snack” reading with book reading, date nights with our spouses, regular together times with our children, better sleep hygiene, regular exercise, dietary self-control, etc.
But we need to be careful. There is a danger in resolutions. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not advocating a wholesale rejection of all good goals. I believe Christian leaders should be living lives characterized by heartfelt discipline and healthy physical, personal, relational and ministry habits. But we need to be careful. Why?
We need to beware because there is a goal that is so overwhelmingly significant, but we can become distracted from it and pay it mere lip service if we are not careful. Hear it in the words of the super-successful and disciplined converted rabbi and rising star of Judaism, the Apostle Paul:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him . . . (Philippians 3:7-9)
This doesn’t sound like a momentary commitment renewal for Paul. He was genuinely gripped by Christ. This is not a passage suggesting we add in more consistent quiet times to our busy lives and call ourselves committed followers of Christ. This is describing an absolute dismissal of all that had been grounds for Paul’s identity before, and its replacement by an utter passion for knowing Christ, gaining Christ, being in Christ.
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