Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Be Good!

Dear Friends,

For many years now the most popular New Year’s resolution has been “Be a better person – be good.” But as a result of Covid, lockdowns and inflation, the most popular resolution for 2022 is “Better finances.” My prayer is that God will provide for all of us in this coming year, but as we one day stand before Jesus, I’m thinking that He won’t be judging us based on our financial investments and the cash value of our Estate that we just left behind. That’s why for those of us who are Christian believers, being sanctified (made holy) by God and becoming less like us and more like Jesus, the resolution I believe God would want us to make is still “Be a better person – be good.”

According to a recent survey, only 44% of us will make resolutions this year, and of those who do, only 10% will stick to them. That means for those who decide they want to be a better person, as soon as February rolls around, the vast majority of these well-intentioned people will have thrown up their hands in despair, decided that it’s futile to become a better person and “being good” is an elusive and unattainable goal! But is it? Not if the power of God is active in your life! 

We’ve seen that in our culture today, right and wrong have morphed into subjective opinion and there are many contradictory beliefs about what is good. We know that only the true and immutable (unchanging) word of God can define what’s is “good” for the believer and if we want to be a better person, we must read our Bible to find out what God’s definition of a good person really is. Then to be a “better person” we need to next place God first in our life and make it our passionate desire to do the will of the Father. Only then can we look forward to the day that Jesus says to us, Well done good and faithful servant.

While we all sin daily in “thought, word and deed,” for many of us, it’s our words that can cause the most hurt in others. There is life and death in the power of the tongue Proverbs 18:21 and our words can crush the spirit of another. We’ll use as an example a sinner I know all too well. Because I have been, thus so far, unsuccessful in convincing my own loved ones that my sarcasm is a spiritual gift from God, this is one area of my personality with which I do struggle. When I pray the prayer of self-examination at the end of the day, the Holy Spirit will replay the tape of any unkind words I’ve used. Many years ago I was convicted by Ephesians 4:29 and I began to pray that scripture every morning and throughout my day: “Lord, let no corrupt or unwholesome word proceed forth from my lips but what would be for the edification of others, according to the need of the moment, that it would impart grace to the hearers.”

But my flesh still occasionally pulls me toward thoughtless and graceless words, as evidenced by a certain loved one giving me a book for Christmas: “TAMING THE TONGUE – How The Gospel Transforms Our Talk.” I wish of course that I didn’t need to read this book, but those of us who are human beings still sin, and the biblical concept of “sanctification” is not a one time event but a process of change that takes place during your lifetime journey. 

How we change to be a better person is through reading the Gospels and allowing the Holy Spirit to change our heart as we read the words of our Lord. If we want to change our words to be words of grace and life to others, we first need a heart transplant. Jesus said that, “What you say flows from your heart,” Luke 6:45 NLT and what we think and how we behave flows from our heart as well. We need God to transplant in us a heart passionate about following His will.

In a recent survey, 48% of those who did not carry out their New Year’s resolutions confessed that it was lack of motivation to succeed. Our passion is the most powerful motivation for success that we can possibly have. My brother wanted to be a bull rider. Seriously. We grew up in Los Angeles, but he went to every rodeo in Southern California. He studied the moves and techniques of the famous, top-money-earning, celebrity bull riders. They were his mentors and he wanted to be exactly like them. And yes he rode bulls until God gave him a holy smack upside the head to knock some sense into him and he got a job with the DWP instead. But his passion for learning how to ride bulls by studying those at the top of the game shows us the passion we must have to become a better person. 

God already created you to be a good person and do good things with your life. Ephesians 2:10 You thought it was a New Year’s resolution, but it’s been God’s plan for your life all along! It’s your God-given destiny! But how do we turn that promise into a practice that changes our lives? Whether you’re a ballet dancer or a bull rider, you’ll need a mentor to emulate and look up to. You and I also need a spiritual  mentor to study and only one Person fits the bill – His name is Jesus Christ. We are told to “be imitators of God” Ephesians 5:1-2 and “walk in the same manner as God does” 1 John 2:6 and then God sent His only Son as the perfect image of the God we are to imitate. Colossians 1:15 

Become passionate about seeking out your mentor Jesus Christ and becoming like Him! Know Him. Study Him. Meditate upon Him. Follow Him. Seek His will for all things in your life. Give Him your heart and let Him change you from the inside out. Let’s all be a better person in 2022. It’s not just a resolution. It’s a promise from God! It’s our destiny!

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