Well, we are one week into the New Year and many resolutions have bitten the dust already. Really, what’s the use? Every year, we pledge to lose weight, save more, spend less, get more organized, pursue our dreams, and get closer to God. For that reason, Genesis is the most read book of the bible. We have all got a quitter inside who often gets the best of us.
A few years ago, I found myself complaining to my on-again, off-again personal trainer that the routine he prescribed for me was no longer effective. He challenged me to another session in which we did all the same exercises, but with greater resistance. I was in pain for the remainder of the week, but got amazing results. Although I was faithful to the routine, I was no longer being challenged by it. It wasn’t the routine that was failing me. It was that it was no longer what I needed at that point in time.
So it is with our spiritual performance. Last year, I challenged you all to perform a spiritual performance review in the same manner in which organizations assess its employees annually. Have you done it? Did you get it right?
The aspects of your life that require review and reflection are between you and God, before whom you stand stark naked. He knows the fruit you bear. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
The manifestation of those things can be pretty subjective and abstract. Here’s another start:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I can’t say that doing any of the above things will guarantee you eternal reward. What I can say is that doing them in Jesus’ name, that is according to His nature, will bring you a lot closer.
The journey never ends: Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).