17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. 20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
So, it’s the first day of 2021. Does it look much different than 2020 so far? Are we still facing a pandemic? Are we still facing injustice? Are political parties still condemning one another? You may be thinking, “When will this all end?!” Well, I certainly wish I knew. And who knows if it will end. But I do know we shouldn’t waste this year just waiting for our lives to “get back to normal.” I mean, what really is “normal”? In her poem The Summer Day, Mary Oliver poses a relevant question to help bring us out of our chaos. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
In this world of social distancing and quarantine, it can be easy to become stagnant in our faith. Paul, however, gives us clear guidance on how we are supposed to live like Christ regardless of life’s circumstances. We’re called to live in this manner even as we begin a new year that, honestly, feels like a continuation of a year we’d like to simply put behind us.
Let’s look at three ways we can use this year to mature in our faith. First, we should align our choices with God’s will and not just with our own personal feelings. Second, we should be using our time and talents to serve those around us. Finally, we should encourage others and show compassion toward them even when it’s difficult.
As we begin this new year, I encourage you to commit to these three principles for living the Christian life. It’s easy to forget that living out these principles can feel uncomfortable at times, tempting us to stay in our “Christian bubble.” While it’s true that we’re commanded to engage with fellow believers, we can’t reach out to the world by staying in our comfort zones all the time. Remember how important it is that you have breath in your lungs today and a purpose to fulfill. As 2021 ensues, we may find ourselves with the same struggles and sufferings. But we can choose how we respond to them and if we’ll help each other through them. So, how will you live out this year?
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How will you choose to live out 2021 with purpose?
- How are you using what’s been given to you to serve others?
- Whom can you encourage and show God’s love to today?
Pray with your family for the unreached around the world during some of your down time this week. Check out the Joshua Project website for resources, maps, and stats.