2020 presented Christians with ample opportunities to practice what they profess. As we hurtle towards the end of the year, maybe we should take a moment to reflect on our walk with God. Can you say you walked in victory? Paul tells us that in all things we’re more than conquerors through Him who loved us [Romans 8:37]. I’ll confess, I didn’t always feel or act like a conqueror. Often, I felt and acted like the conquered. It’s easy to accept this as the norm because it’s the norm for many of us to be overwhelmed by life, but can you honestly say you lived the abundant life Jesus promised in 2020?
Although Jesus told us unequivocally that we would do the things He did and more [John 14:12], I’m often tempted to dismiss such a lofty ideal as unattainable. Yet, the Bible doesn’t leave me any wiggle room. Paul emphatically states that the same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead is at work in me [Romans 8:11]. Elsewhere, he also prays that we may know the immeasurable power of God at work in those who believe in Him [Ephesians 1:19]. It seems undeniable that God has graced you and me to be so much more than we’re experiencing. I often wonder if there won’t be a tinge of regret when we get to heaven and find out how much more we could have accomplished if we took what Jesus said literally, and fervently pursued its manifestation in our lives.
A preacher once observed that a student with negligible medical knowledge enrols in medical school and graduates a few years later, able to recognise patterns and diagnose diseases with relative accuracy. He argued that this happens because the student has gained knowledge which he or she subsequently applies. However, even after decades in the Church, he’s noticed that many Christians are still unable to understand God’s character and principles. Consequently, they’re found wanting in their walk and fail to demonstrate the results Jesus promised would accompany us. Is this your experience too? While results aren’t everything in a Christian’s life, they are usually an indication of the quality of his or her relationship with God. So, what do your results say about your walk?
It’s inarguable that the world’s fastest car isn’t going to get me to my destination without some effort on my part. I’ll need to switch the engine on and engage with the car to benefit from its speed. The same principle applies to a Christian’s life. Having the Holy Spirit within us will make little difference until we engage with Him. Expecting a different outcome would be akin to sitting in a car with the ignition off and expecting to somehow reach your destination. We shouldn’t be content to quote and declare Bible passages which are patently different from our lived experience. Jesus lived what He preached. If we’re failing to do the same, maybe it’s a good time to conduct a candid self-appraisal of our walk with God. No one else needs to be involved, just God. Remember that Paul told us to judge ourselves so that we wouldn’t be judged [1 Corinthians 11:31].
Walking with God isn’t complicated. It doesn’t require any qualifications as many of the first disciples proved. The book of Hebrews tells us that faith – a term it defines – is integral to the Christian walk [Hebrews 11:1,6]. Elsewhere, Paul teaches that faith comes by hearing the word of God [Romans 10:17]. So, as you conduct your self-appraisal, reflect on how much time you dedicated to hearing the word of God in 2020. Beyond the sermon on a Sunday, how much time did you spend reading and studying the Scriptures for yourself? How much did you desire to know the precepts of the Lord [Psalm 19:8-11]? Can the word of God be a lamp for your feet if you do not know it [Psalm 119:105]? Put differently, if we don’t know the instructions of the Lord, how can we apply them when the situation arises [Psalm 19:7]?
Jesus once said that those who love Him, keep His commandments [John 14:15]. As if to underscore his Brother’s point, James adds that we’re deceiving ourselves if we claim to be following God but don’t do what He says [James 1:22]. The truth is that it’s often our unwillingness to obey, rather than our ignorance of God’s word, that prevents us from keeping His commandments. Nevertheless, the Bible reminds us repeatedly that God despises disobedience. If we’re failing to keep Jesus’ commandments, should we be surprised by our lack of results? So, as part of your self-assessment, how determined were you to obey God in 2020? Was it something you did only when it was convenient? Did you make excuses to justify behaviours at odds with the counsel of God? Did you pursue integrity and righteousness in all your relationships? Did you love God with all your heart, soul and might? Did you love your neighbour as yourself?
So, how did you do with your 2020 self-assessment? Did you find any room for improvement? Remember not to beat yourself up, if you didn’t do well. Our God is merciful and doesn’t condemn us [Romans 8:1]. Nevertheless, He does expect us to run the race of life with the focus and determination of an athlete gunning for gold [1 Corinthians 9:24-27]. Some of us will be aiming to get fitter in the coming year. Yet, this won’t happen without considerable effort. Similarly, if we want to grow spiritually next year, then it will require discipline, consistency and holy sweat from us.
So, do you want to see improved results in your walk with God next year? Then, make Him a promise to devote more time and effort to hearing from Him and doing what He says.