“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time…” (Ephesians 5:16-17a)
Happy New Year! If you are anything like me, January 1 brings desires for a personal reboot. I usually spend the last days and weeks of December reflecting and praying over the past year and asking God to show me areas where He desires to grow me. This year is no different. In Acts 1:7, Jesus reminds us that God is the only One who truly knows about our time. But Paul reminds us in Ephesians that – as far as it depends on us – we should submit ourselves to God as His instruments in the lives of others. We need to ask ourselves how will we steward this time, as well as the talent and treasure, that God has given us. For such a time as THIS. But how?
For my husband and I, making the best use of the time has come through our use of a Wisdom, Stature and Favor Goals worksheet. We have been following this approach for nearly 20 years. I must admit that some years have been better than others. But it really has been a great way to focus ourselves on The Great Commandment and The Great Commission. Here’s how it works:
We begin our weekend by praying over a verse from Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” We can think of no better example to follow than the life of Jesus Christ, and this verse tells us all the ways that Christ made the best use of His time on this earth.
- Jesus grew in wisdom. Thus, how can we increase our wisdom and mental fitness? We ask ourselves: What new habits do we need to practice, or what do we need to renew? What do we need to stay strong? What subjects does God seem to want to speak to us about this year? Example: I will read at least one book every month.
- Jesus grew in stature. How can we take care of our bodies, God’s temple? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” So, how can we better honor God in the New Year with our bodies? This Corinthians verse is specifically speaking of sexual sin; but it certainly can be applied to slothfulness, gluttony and the like. So, we ask yourselves, as far as it depends on us, how can we keep God’s temple, our bodies, pure and fit? Example: We will complete a three-day diet cleanse by Jan. 31, 2022.
- Jesus grew in favor with God. What can we do, therefore, to improve our relationship with God? Matthew 22:37 reminds us of the Great Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” We pray and ask God to show us how we are doing with this Commandment. What are some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals we could set for ourselves to focus on God more? Example: We will have a minimum of five days of focused prayer time each week.
- Jesus grew in favor with…man. How can we grow in our relationship with others? The Bible talks not only about fellowship with close friends and family, but also about “entertaining strangers.” So, how can our lives not only be intentional with those we know, but purposeful in making new acquaintances. Are there ways that we could improve our devotion “to…the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers”? And how can we entertain strangers? Example: We will pray about and schedule a neighborhood outreach by March 31, 2022.
My dear friend, Sue, often quotes Craig Groeschel’s statement, “Our minds go in the direction of our thoughts.” This New Year, why not think about ways to follow Christ’s example and grow in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man? To help you do that, we are providing you with a printable guide to follow. We pray that using it will help your days be sublime and a little more free above the fray. God bless you, friend!
— Linda R. Maynard © January 2022