The Expository Files

A New year in an Old World

As we enter a new year, many will make this a time of reflecting, resolving and meditating. What will this new year hold for me? How can I make it a success? What can I do to make my life and the lives of my family, friends and brethren richer? The Bible holds some good answers to these meaningful questions.

There Is A Time For Everything
"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven - a time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4; cf. vss. 5-8).

What will make this year successful? Different people measure success in different ways. How about if I shielded myself from all sorrow. If I only laugh this year, but shed no tears at all, will that mean it has been a success? If I only plant, but never uproot, will this year have been a success? If I fight no battles, but enjoy only peace... if I only sew together, but never tear apart... and so forth.

No, that will not make this coming year a success because life is made up of various times and events. It is no success to laugh when one ought to be weeping, or to continue to build when we ought to simply tear down and start over. One key to success is to know and respond to an event with the appropriate action. We need to also learn to use the proper standard of measurement when weighing our success. For example, intellectual achievement is a fine thing, but it cannot bring success by itself (Ecclesiastes 1:16,17). We all enjoy a good time, and pleasures of life are meant to be enjoyed. But again, if attaining pleasure or thrills is our sole measuring rod for success, then we will fail (Ecclesiastes 2:1,2). Some measure success by the number of carefree days they have. Some even abandon all meaningful relationships, or numb their minds with alcohol or drugs to attain a, "I don't care about nothing" attitude. Such a life is not successful by any worthwhile measure (Ecclesiastes 2:3). Doing good at work is a fine thing with great potential, but that alone will not make for a successful life (Ecclesiastes 2:4-6). Becoming wealthy is often used by the world as a standard of success, but it is a false standard (Ecclesiastes 2:7-9). How about just "getting everything I want my way"? No, something is still missing (Ecclesiastes 2:10,11; 17).

You see, there "is a time for everything" but nothing in life works right a part from God and a good, healthy spiritual relationship with Him (Ecclesiastes 2:24,25; 12:13,14). With God, life has meaning - both the times of laughter as well as the times for weeping. Nothing is in vain.

Our Priorities Must Be Right
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33).What is first in your life? Is it His kingdom? Jesus says for life to work right, it must be.

Someone might say, "But there are so many matters in life that are so pressing and important. I could probably manage putting the kingdom first for a day, but not for a lifetime."

Good news! That's all Jesus requires! Think about it. He expects you to give Him just one day. Can you do it? But... that day has to be today. He does not expect for you to give Him yesterday. All your yesterdays are gone. He does not expect a single one of them from you. And tomorrow... well, it is not here yet. Many try to give Him their tomorrows. They say that they are too busy today, but tomorrow... but Jesus very specifically tells us to not be anxious about tomorrow. If tomorrow gets here at all, it will no longer be "tomorrow". It will then be "today". Remember... today is what we have to work with (Hebrews 3:13).

God's Commandments Are For Our Good
"So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today." (Deuteronomy 6:24).

Some people think it is hard being a Christian. In some ways they are right. It calls for more strength, courage and sacrifice. Dedication and discipleship go hand in hand. But in other ways it is easier (Matthew 11:28-30). There are benefits that make us confident and give us peace. and joy. Our lives are lifted up and given meaning and purpose in Jesus and the keeping of His commandments (1 John 5:3.4). The emotional/spiritual benefits of faith are real. Singing the song "I'm Happy Today" very simply tells why. Because "In Jesus Christ, I'm happy today, because He's washed, my sins away." Forgiveness brings hope, and hope brings confidence, peace and joy.

We are on a journey. We must not lose sight of God. We are not at home in this world (Hebrews 11:9-10; 13-14; 16). The best thing we can do for ourselves and our loved ones in this coming year is to fix "our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith." (Hebrews 12:2). He has already completed the journey. He knows how to get home. He is showing us the way. Have a happy and blessed new year.

By Jon W. Quinn
The Final Page
From Expository Files 9.1; January 2002