Mondays give us a fresh start to a brand-new week, while January 1 offers a fresh start to a brand-new year. Despite its reputation as everyone’s least favorite day of the week, Monday represents a moment of hope and possibility — just like the beginning of another trip around the sun.
Like a new year, Mondays can also feel daunting. After a weekend of doing what we want, Mondays bring us back to doing what we must. Mondays slap us in the face with the reality of work, and its daily grind. Our to-do list seems much longer than it was on Friday. That extra cup (or six) of coffee comes in real handy.
Yet if Mondays are challenging, new years can be downright difficult. For most of us, it’s an annual reminder of all the things we didn’t do. The pounds we didn’t lose. The marathon we never got around to running. The opportunities we let pass us by … again.
Now that 2022 is at our doorstep, you may be feeling more anxious than usual. It’s been a rough couple of years. A lot of people are barely hanging on, and that thread just keeps getting thinner and thinner for some. You may be one of those wondering, “Is it too much to ask that the next 365 days be less … challenging?”
A new year represents an opportunity for a reset — and for Christians a chance to refocus our lives on the one thing that matters most: Jesus. If there’s one truth that remains certain for believers, it’s that being centered on Christ gives our lives a foundation that never fails. If ever there were a time to turn our eyes toward Jesus, the path leading into a new year surely qualifies.
Honestly, I can’t think of a better resolution than putting Jesus at the forefront of your life. But, as with so many worthwhile pursuits, it’s easier said than done. For one thing, “focusing on Jesus” isn’t specific enough. Like any achievable goal, you need steps to get you there. Like any Monday, you need a to-do list to get where you want to be by Friday.
But focusing on Jesus shouldn’t be relegated to a “to do” list. Instead, I like to think of it as more of a “to be” list. These aren’t merely tasks to be checked off. A to be list is a change in the way you think and behave. It almost goes without saying that the most important thing you can do to be more like Jesus is to be regularly reading His Word that reveals Who He is and what He desires from you in order to become more like Him.
Once you know that love is the essence of Who Christ is, there are actions you can take–which you can call action steps, pledges, or even adventures– that will reflect Him and His heart of love to a world that is desperate to know Him and the peace, joy, and love that is found in Him alone. No matter what you name them, these are the four essential resolutions every Jesus warrior should consider making in the new year.
Want to discover who God meant you to be? Want to find peace? Reduce your anxiety? Feel fulfilled? Make 2022 better than all the years before? Then consider living out these four resolutions.
1. Love someone … every day. When Jesus was questioned by some religious leaders about what he considered the most important commandment, Jesus told them there were two that were equally important: love God and love others (Matthew 22:34-40). These are the defining qualities of any follower of Christ.
If you want to be more like Jesus in the new year, the absolute best place to start is by loving others. And you can show that love every single day.
Loving others takes many forms. You can say an encouraging word. You can send an uplifting card, email or text to someone you know. You can offer to help a neighbor with a simple task or chore. You can simply spend time with someone. Showing love every day is not only easy and doable, it’s foundational to what it means to be a Christian.
2. Love someone … with grace. It’s easy to love the loveable. Loving the hard-to-love is what we call “Jesus-level” love. It’s the kind of compassion and kindness that Jesus showed in His life, and it’s also what He commands His followers to do.
Sadly, Christians aren’t known these days for their grace. Survey after survey shows that most people view Christians as judgmental. But 2022 is the year you can change that. When you show love — pure, unconditional love — to those who don’t “deserve” it, you’re being a real-life example of the grace that Jesus Himself exemplified.
3. Love someone … with no expectations. Love is not a transaction. Love is not currency. The act of loving another person means you’re giving of yourself with no thought of what you might get in return.
This mindset is truly freeing. When you find yourself showing kindness to someone with the hopes of “getting something out of it,” it’s not love. But when your love is unconditional, it frees you to experience the joy of giving and blessing someone else. Period.
Don’t worry about rewards or reciprocation. Resolve to be the kind of person who follows in Jesus’ footsteps without keeping track of all the footprints you’ve left behind.
4. Love someone … with your actions. It’s one thing to “love” another person with your heart. But real love doesn’t just exist inside our heads. To quote the title of Bob Goff’s remarkable book, “Love Does.”
Jesus’ kind of love requires action. It produces tangible results. Love exhibits patience. Love shows kindness. Love protects and gives and serves and celebrates.
A Revolutionary Resolution
If you can resolve to commit to at least one simple act of love every day in the new year, you will absolutely be more Christlike. You will begin to be known as one of the “loving” kind of Christians. And, rather than experiencing a streak of 365 Mondays, you’ll find the new year to be one filled with more peace and joy than you could ever have imagined.
Start your new year by joining Jamie and Julie for their “Faith Your Fear Forum” every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST via Zoom to study the Bible and learn how to apply His Words in your daily life.
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