I am aware that 1/12th of 2017 is already gone, but nevertheless, I want to take a moment to look at the year ahead in terms of my spiritual goals.
- Living Intentionally – After having read Drift (review here), this has become my overarching goal for the new year. The dazzle of the first couple months of being a new Christian was certainly great, and I want to carry that sense of wonder along for sure, but now is the time to get to work. Now is the time to start living the life that God wants me to live, to put in practice the example Jesus gave me, to turn from word to reality the Golden Rule: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.“ (Mat 7:12 NASB)
- Tithes – I have been tithing for years. In Judaism it is called giving tzedakah [צדקת], from the root word tzedek [צדק], meaning justice. The lesson there is that when we give tithes, it is an act of justice in the world, for God gave to us so that we could be like Him and give to others. I have continued this practice as a Christian because it is a commandment and because it is the right thing to do. This year, however, I want to focus on this as a special commandment. I want to do it more diligently than ever before, and I want to increase what I give. To someone who doesn’t tithe the whole concept may seem counterproductive or even absurd, but it isn’t. I have never lacked from tithing, and I know that as I increase in my giving, I will still not lack, for as God says through the prophet Malachi, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Mal 3:10 NASB)
[As an aside: In Hebrew, the word tzedek (justice) is written צדק, and the word tzadik (righteous person, saint) is written צדיק. If you notice, the only difference between them is the addition of the letter Yud [י], which is the first letter in the name of God, and thus represents Him. The lesson here is that when we give charity, tzedaka, we partner with God in an act of justice, tzedek, which brings us closer to Him (represented by the Yud of His name), and makes us a righteous person (tzadik).]
- Watching My Eyes – “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!“ (Mat 6:22-23 NASB) At this particular moment in Matthew, Jesus is talking about money, but the greater context of the verse has to do with what we see, what we put our sights on, what we focus on. For this year, I want to pay close attention to this area, to be mindful of what I see, what I let into my body via my eyes. This means reading my Bible more and in a consistent manner. This means watching what I look at, what I choose to pay attention to, around me. This means not objectifying people. This means guarding what I see on my social media. It’s a big area, but I’m convinced it is of great importance.
- Community – This year I want to join a small group at my church. I like the idea of having a small group of people that you can study with, people that (as my church puts it) I can do life with. I don’t have too many friends, and not all of the friends I have are on my same spiritual wavelength, so much like I once connected with groups of gamers, I now wish to connect with a group of fellow Christians with whom I can grow, and maybe even become friends with. My biggest self-imposed hurdle here is that I don’t want it to take away from the little time I get to spend with my fiance and daughter. But I’ll work on this and with God’s help, I’ll make this happen.
I look forward to 2017. I feel, I trust, it’s gonna be a great year.