Can you believe 2019 is almost over! So, did you accomplish everything you set out to do on January 1, 2019? Did you keep your New Year’s Resolution for the last 363 days?
Yeah, me either. Far from it! I’m pretty sure I broke my resolution within the first week of 2019.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why we come up with these crazy goals for ourselves? Maybe it’s because we all want to reach the end of the year—or the end of our lives—having made a real difference, a lasting mark on the world.
So how can we do that?
Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” When making decisions about how to spend the money and time God has given us, this verse tells us to start at the end (our goal) and work backward. To do this, we can ask ourselves questions like:
- Will this decision meet a temporal need or accomplish an eternal goal?
- Will this choice bring God glory or boost our own pride (see Col. 3:17)?
- Will our decision result in immediate gratification for ourselves or will it benefit the eternal life of someone else?
I love the book of Ecclesiastes not because it’s easy to read—in fact, it’s filled with tough truths that are difficult to live out—but because it reminds us of this principle: to live well, we must live with the end in mind.
King Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes at the end of his life to share a lifetime of insight. So, what nugget of wisdom did he discover? Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 says, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.”
Solomon had the battle scars to show how hard it was to learn some of the lessons. He pursued wealth, women, and wisdom and, at the end, determined that nothing in life has meaning unless it pleases God and brings Him glory.
There are real hardships in our world—poverty, sickness, disease, homelessness, and hopelessness—that need our attention and action. And God commands us to use the resources He has given us to make a difference while we have breath in our lungs. First John 3:16-18 says, “By this we know love, that [Jesus] laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get to the end of 2020, or the end of my life, wondering if I could have done more—spent more time with my kids while they were young, interceded for others more, or given more of God’s resources to the extreme poor around the world—for those who don’t have enough food to survive, shelter to protect them from harsh weather, or money for clothing or health care.
I know I didn’t keep my 2019 New Year Resolution perfectly or accomplish every goal I had planned this year. All I can do is strive for growth and hope that, at the end of 2020, I’m a little bit more like Christ than I was on January 1st.