It seems like Americans are especially ready to be done with 2016. We are writing resolutions and envisioning better days ahead. In 2017, let’s be sure to aim for what matters. And the reality is: very few things actually matter.
It is estimated that Americans are exposed to between 4,000 and 10,00 advertisements a day. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has to combat feelings of guilt for not cooking organic food or not purchasing the latest technology for my kids. I feel bad because I’ve been inundated with messages that tell me I’m only a good mom if they eat locally-sourced grass-fed beef and have an iPhone 7. Give me a break.
There is a simple text tucked into the Old Testament that contains what actually matters. It’s the Lord’s concise expectations for His people. As we envision better days ahead, let’s commit ourselves to obeying these few, but powerful, verses.
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. - Deuteronomy 10:12-15
These are the things that matter:
- Fear the Lord
- Walk in His ways
- Love Him
- Serve Him with all your heart and all your soul
- Keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord
These are simple, but profound, and they require far more than our own strength. We’re going to need the power of the resurrected Lord to even attempt to do them (which, thankfully, is readily available to us; see Ephesians 1:19-20). Not only that, but we’re going to need to be in His word, if we’re going to know what His ways, commandments, and statutes are (John 14:21). He says that following them are for our good (v. 13). Our energies will need to be redirected from the superficial to the heart level, for our own good. What a sweet Father.
Following the commandments are two bits of good news, which lay an important foundation. Verse 14 tells us that everything belongs to Him—everything! All that is in the earth, the heavens, and the heaven of heavens are His! You and I can have peace, because He alone is Sovereign. Additionally, you and I must carefully evaluate our resolutions for the coming year—because it’s not our year, it’s His. When we steward that which belongs to someone else, we don’t get to decide how it’s spent.
And lastly, what joy is found in verse 15—God’s heart is set in love on us and He chose us. He is a devoted and faithful Father. We can trust His sovereignty and that His requirements of us are for our good (Romans 8:28).
As I sit down to write my resolutions for 2017 I am going to ask the Lord to direct my heart towards His and to keep me from veering towards the superficial. I’m aiming for goals that reflect what He’s asked of me: to fear Him, walk in His ways, love Him, serve Him with all my heart and soul, and keep His commandments—all the while remembering that the year is His and He’s devoted to me.