TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I can’t believe 2019 is going to be over in three days. Wasn’t I just wishing y’all Happy New Year a month ago??? But alas… here we are again. Full circle. And if you’re anything like me or 99.9% of people (rough guesstimate)—you’re reflecting on where you were this time last year and where you are today. What have you accomplished? What have you learned? What are your new goals?
Even though I don’t make formal resolutions (DEFINITION: a firm decision to do or not do something), I do set goals (DEFINITION: an aim or desired result). For instance, I adopt a new word of the year and set some personal and financial goals. And since I do have two X chromosomes, I usually have a goal tied to a scale and all the “I’ll fit in it again someday” clothes that are hanging in my closet.
Notice that I defined resolutions versus goals. You’re bright, capable people. You don’t need me to tell you what these words mean. But I think we sometimes get them mixed up. Especially if you’re a Type A personality—competitive with an all-or-nothing attitude. The absolutes of resolutions can make us feel like failures whereas goals give us flexibility to learn and grow.
So what does that mean to our faith and spiritual health? When we become Christians or rededicate our lives to Christ—a lot of us tend to adopt this “I’m never going to mess up again” attitude. And while that should be our goal, friends—I’m going to let you in on a little secret we all need to be reminded of from time to time… you’re never going to be perfect.
The great news—Jesus doesn’t expect you to be. He knows that we can’t be because we have sinful natures. He doesn’t want us to set hard and fast rules on our behavior. If we could do it that way, we could still be operating under Levitical law and He could have spared Himself the anguish and agony of the cross!
But we can’t measure up. We never could. Thankfully, we have Jesus who has a far better understanding of our limitations than we do. Hebrews 4:15-16 reminds us that Jesus is prepared to equip us to meet our spiritual goals. It says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (ESV).
I’ll share a real example with y’all. Up until several years ago, yours truly could (and did) cuss like a sailor. I had quite a mouth on me. When I rededicated my life to Christ and returned from my prodigal ways, one of the first goals I set for myself was to clean up my language. Goodness y’all, I’m a writer! I have a better vocabulary than what I was using. But some of the word I spoke were so habitual that I said things without even thinking. Like when you trip and automatically say “Ouch.” Except my word wasn’t “ouch.” When I decided to clean up my language, I was full of absolute rules and then, when something popped out, I’d grovel an apology prayer swearing I’d never do it again. But God… He is so good to us. I prayed for help and He gave it to me.
My vocabulary was one of my spiritual goals. I didn’t know why at the time, but I do now. He gave me this assignment to write and I needed to clean up my language if I was going to do it.
He convicts us in different ways and then, He equips us to do it. He’s not a hands off, impersonal God who tells us to make changes without giving us what we need to make those changes. He empowers us to do what He calls us to do.
As you think of spiritual goals—what is God putting on your heart to do? Does He want you to volunteer? Serve? Speak? Write? Give? Teach? Make changes? Whatever goal He is giving you, you can rest assured that Jesus knows what you need to get there. And the Holy Spirit who lives within you will guide you if you let Him.
And one final note—the Type As are looking for new goals to start on January 1st. But God doesn’t operate in our calendar system. His new goal for you isn’t tied to a new year. So as hard as it is, take a page from the Type Bs and try to be flexible.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for understanding and knowing our weaknesses. Ask the Holy Spirit to equip you as you work toward your spiritual goals. Ask Him to keep chiseling away at your heart to make you more like Christ every day.