Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.
When I read this quote I was challenged by it simplicity and its ending. Around the blogs and the twittersphere there is a lot of topical New Years material but there is a also a cathartic nature in writing about the topic. Like every good preacher I suspect that every blogger is ‘preaching’ first to himself before the audience reads a word. One of the ways that I approach each New Year is to think of three words that will keep the year ahead in focus. I will outline those three words for 2012 in a future post.
The challenge of Benjamin Franklin’s quote is not in the looking forward but in the looking back. The looking forward has every opportunity to be approached fresh or brash, with trepidation or confidence. The choice is ours and that is the beauty of a new day and a New Year. The bounty is in whether we look back as a better man or woman.
As I consider where I am now I can see the fine tuning of years of learning and yet I have a deep desire to see more change. Is incremental change sufficient? Do we allow time to have its way and ask the world to wait patiently? There are some things the world should wait for but a better man should arrive sooner.
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!
This verse is the candy of funeral sermons and the goal of every Christian man and woman who wants to appear before their Lord and Saviour. It contains the words a sinner wants to hear from a Saviour who has given so much but it also presents a conundrum if handled unwisely in that it could infer a life spent trying to earn God’s free gift of salvation. I firmly believe that our salvation as well as our lives are a gift from our Creator. Like every good, valued and appreciated gift we should treasure them. Whether from reading Psalm 90 in our Bible or the lyrics of a song we have to ask what we’re doing with our ‘three score and ten’.
So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.
2 Peter 1:10
As a Dad you sometimes find your gifts are squandered. It can break your heart for one of two reasons. First maybe the waste when a child doesn’t see the potential in the gift you wrapped and leaves it amongst the torn papers for something shiny. The second would be when a parent who has made extra effort to bless a child with ‘the gift’ only to see it played with for a day and then drift into the memory of another Christmas morning because they didn’t understand the sacrifice.
So when you were born you and I were given a gift. The moment we breathed our first was the starter’s pistol and race ahead can be enjoyed, experienced or endured but its our race. I know some of us will run a marathon, enjoy the scenery and have a cup of tea on the way. Others will do a three legged race to help a friend and some will do the 100 metres to prove it can be done. The important thing is to be able to look back and ask have we run well, the race set before us.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Right now I’m sitting on the side of the road watching runners go past. I caught some ‘runner’s stich’ from too much good holiday food and I’m tired. So what can I do? Well I just saw another runner stop and look around a bit dazed. They didn’t seem to know where they were going. The first thing I’m going to do is go help point them in the right direction. After that I need to get my stride back.
I want to be able to look back on this year not because of the faces I see over my shoulder but to know the greater distance between me and the start line means I’m closer to the finish. Its my hope that with prayer, humility and determination I will be a better man.
Thank you for reading this post from the heart. Please share it with friends and on Facebook and I always love to read the comments below so please leave a short note.