Everything about the new year seems to revolve around this question: What are you going to change this year?
Honestly, I’m tired of the lectures about not meeting my goals last year. And I’m tired of the lectures about meeting my goals this coming year. Of course, I strongly encourage you to grow in Christ. But, sometimes, I struggle with being told how to live by fallible human beings.
So, please don’t shut me out. Don’t stop reading just yet. I hope this post won’t sound like a lecture.
Rather, I hope it will give you the encouragement you need to start the new year with peace. Because you don’t need to start 2020 feeling discouraged, hopeless, or ashamed. A better way to start the new year is by reading this passage:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14 ESV)
What Lies Behind
Maybe you haven’t noticed, but we as human beings, whether Christian or not, are really hard on ourselves. Not only do others criticize us, but we also constantly criticize ourselves. Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
Oh, I’m such an idiot. Why did I do that?
I’m so stupid. I need to grow up already.
What a failure I’ve turned out to be. I’m such a disappointment.
But, if we are Christians, our wrong choices—whether accidental or intentional—do not define us. All of our sins were covered by Christ’s blood that He shed on the cross. He showed us incredible love that we didn’t deserve, which is essentially the definition of grace.
And He doesn’t take away His grace once we become saved. He is still loving toward us, even when we don’t deserve it. Thus, our past does not define who we are because it has been fully paid for by Jesus.
What Lies Ahead
Of course, our sin isn’t going to disappear once we embrace that truth. We will still sin in the future, even though we are saved. We won’t stop sinning until we go to heaven. So what should be our goal for the future?
Perhaps, our goal should be to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (v. 14). This goal is worthwhile, God-designed, and doable with His help.
A very, very bright future lies ahead for those who love Christ. Of course, this future—and the prize—is hard to focus on in our distracting world.
But never forget this: nothing on this earth—no sinful choice, no job title, no financial status, no relationship status, no clothing size, no number of social media followers—defines who we are. Nothing.
Whatever you did (or didn’t) do in 2019, don’t let it stop you from doing (or not doing) something in 2020.
Don’t set goals to prove something to yourself, others, or God. He already loves you. Set goals that cause you to press on. What lies behind is gone, but what lies ahead is worth everything.