A new year is a great opportunity to reflect on how you've spent your past year.
What things you want to carry on to 2014, and what things you hope to leave behind.
I personally love New Year resolutions because of the hope and sense of redemption they carry--fine, you know you've failed in this, are weak in that, but hey, you get a chance to change that, and you feel hopeful that you can! A little reflection of sanctification; the joy of being enabled to change. :)
Talking about sanctification.
My new year resolutions usually fall into three categories: aspirations--
-- I want to fulfill dreams or 'do cool stuff'--
...master a magic trick, try pottery, be able to sing a Jay Chou song (my Chinese isn't even at that level yet, unfortunately)...
-- I want to develop better habits, a better lifestyle--
...join the 5 AM Club, call my grandparents regularly...
--and the spiritual:
I want to be a better reflection of Christ.
I gave my 2014 New Year 'spiritual life resolutions' some thought. This chapter of life, God so led me to conclude I needed to be more gracious. That was my first New Year Resolution. (there's a second too; but I'm saving that for now;)
Words are something we tend to overlook or discount, especially besides 'more serious' sins like selfishness, pride, sexual sin, covetousness, hatred, and the like.
"If anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless." (James 1:26)
It's one thing to have a heart full of love for others, as Christ did (something most of us acknowledge we need, and must work on cultivating.) It's another thing for your words to reflect that as well. Of course, the heart is what really matters and all that; but the point was, upon reflection I could see there were many times when my words were unloving--even if my heart wasn't.
When I get impatient. When I'm tired or frustrated. When I'm annoyed or angry, of course. (especially when that stinging smart-mouth retort is just burning the tip of your tongue...)
When I'm trying to get things done and I feel that other people are slowing me down or getting in the way (as a go-getter, this is a big issue for me; my mom has reminded me of this many times. I have to struggle not to lapse into being--or coming across as--brusque, curt, or dismissive.)
And even when I'm joking.
Simply put, I couldn't picture Christ saying what I said. That disturbed me (as I'm sure it should.)
If I'm sure Christ wouldn't be sarcastic (I certainly hope and believe He wouldn't!), why should I be, since I profess to want to be like Him?
I've come to realize that seemingly harmless things like sarcasm and 'mean humor' (so popular now) aren't really all that harmless after all. Either they hurt others or they hurt you.
It isn't helpful for others, and it doesn't help me love them better.
Even if only in jest, it's an 'appearance of evil'--paraphrase: 'appearance of unlovingness/unkindness'. And we are to avoid all appearances of evil.
Oh, it's hard to give up; mainly because it seems such a small, silly thing that's good for generating some fun and laughter. Especially if you're good at coming up with clever comebacks.
And James 1:26 packs us a good wallop, a sharp reminder not to be foolish!
"If anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless."
Wow. That's strong.
A religion that doesn't change you--doesn't make any difference in how you live your life, how you treat others, how you speak even--is useless.
Christ calls us to be His, in entirety.
Not just our hands and feet as we tend to simplify it--getting carried away by the more obvious external actions of serving/obeying God.
Our head, and heart as well--and tongue.
a quiet voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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