Watchman Warning: 2017 In The Mirror - By Hal Lindsey -
The old year ends, and a new one beckons - fresh, untainted, and full of promise. As the new year begins, people around the world tend to look in a rearview mirror. What happened last year? What did I achieve? What did I leave undone? How well did I spend the days, hours, and minutes during the earth's most recent orbit of the sun?
We often speak of stewardship in terms of money, but everything we have belongs to God. That includes physical, spiritual, and moral strength. It includes intelligence and imagination. We should see ourselves as stewards of everything God has entrusted to us. That includes time.
So, when we look at 2017 in the rearview mirror, how did we do? According to the United States Department of Labor, here's what the average American, 20 or older, did with last year. He or she spent:
146 days in personal care (mostly sleep).
18 days eating and drinking.
29 days on household activities.
12 days purchasing goods and services.
7 days caring for and helping household members.
3 days caring for and helping non-household members.
53 days on working and work-related activities.
3 days on educational activities (skewed a little high because many in their early twenties are still in school).
5 days on civic and religious activities.
82 days on leisure and sports.
2 days on telephone calls, mail, and email.
4 days on other things.
For me, that list includes several surprises. The big one is that we average 53 days working, and 82 days of leisure. Don't get me wrong. Leisure can be important. We are to be good stewards of health as well as time. We strengthen our bodies, minds, and spirits with wholesome activities that come under the label "leisure."
But Americans average 82 days a year on leisure. That amounts to 37% of our waking hours. Work gets only 24%, and a combination of religious and civic activities total only 2%. We're all different, and those are just averages. But they should make us think.
God entrusted 2017 - a whole year - to each of us. What did we do with it? If we didn't use it as well as we should have, we need to ask, "Why not?" Maybe we need more than a rearview mirror. Instead of looking backward, maybe we need to change the mirror's angle so that we look directly into it... at ourselves.
A Marist Poll found that the most common New Year's resolution for 2018 is "to be a better person." The same resolution also topped last year's poll. We want to be better than we are. No one lives up to even his or her own standard of right and wrong, much less God's.
The Bible says, "There is none righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10 NASB)
That is the plight of humanity. We look in the mirror, and see a sinner. We resolve to do better and be better. And while we sometimes keep resolutions, we continue to sin. We continue to break God's standards of right and wrong, as well as our own.
In the latter part of Romans 7, we read the earnest heart cry of a man fighting his sin nature. Among other things, he says, "I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.... The good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.... Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:15, 19, 24 NASB)
We've all experienced such despair. But God provides a way to escape sin's bondage. Romans 7:24 ask, "Who will set me free from the body of this death?" Romans 7:25 answers, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Jesus sets us free! The verse after that says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1 NASB)
We who are in Christ are no longer under condemnation, because Jesus received our condemnation on the cross. He paid the price. In Christ, we stand perfect before God.
But there's a problem. We are positionally perfect in Christ, but we still struggle with sin. How do we gain victory over it?
First, understand that sin's power to operate in the life of the Christian has been neutralized by our being united with Christ in His death. Sin is no longer your boss. Romans 6 says, "Our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.... So consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts.... For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace." (Romans 6: 6, 7, 11, 12, 14 NASB)
God has already broken sin's power over you. Believe it! Faith in this truth sets the Holy Spirit free to make victory a reality in your day-to-day experience. You can't lift yourself out of sin, but the Holy Spirit can. As the old song says, He will lift you out of sin's miry clay, and set your feet on the Rock to stay.
Those in Christ Jesus can be "confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6 NASB)
May 2018 be a blessed and glorious year in Christ for you and all your loved ones!