As a new year dawns, many are energized by the idea of a fresh start or a new bucket list. I’d like to offer a different perspective. Instead of limiting your thoughts to the coming year, what if you viewed your New Year’s resolutions with an eternal perspective? Colossians 3 challenges us to think beyond this world by, “seeking the things above” and to, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth” (vv1-2). So as we think about 2023, how do we accept the challenge to lift our thoughts?
Living with an eternal perspective starts with humility. In Isaiah 57:15 God says, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” You see, humility is a deliberate attitude. It’s a moment-by-moment lifestyle of agreeing with God about the true condition of your heart and life—not as others think it is, but as God knows it to be.
This isn’t simply looking at your sins, bad habits, and failures in disgust. Morbid introspection reveals a preoccupation with self rather than with Christ, which leads to false humility. The great preacher and scholar Martin Lloyd-Jones helps us understand:
I suggest that we cross the line from self-examination to introspection when, in a sense, we do nothing but examine ourselves, and when such self-examination becomes the main and chief end of our life. We are meant to examine ourselves periodically, but if we are always doing it, always, as it were, putting our soul on a plate and dissecting it, that is introspection. And if we are always talking to people about ourselves and our problems and troubles, and if we are forever going to them with that kind of frown upon our face saying: I am in great difficulty–it probably means that we are all the time centered upon ourselves. That is introspection, and that in turn leads to the condition known as morbidity.
Genuine humility puts your mind and life in a position to achieve the works of eternity. But developing genuine humility requires the absolute surrender of your will to God’s will; with no resistance and no hesitation.
Healthy humility paves the way for spiritual honesty. You cannot maintain an eternal perspective without examining yourself truthfully. In my experience, the person who most often deceives me is me. When I lack humility I also lack the desire to hear honestly from God. I tend to evaluate things as they relate to me. I focus on what I want from God instead of what God is doing. Spiritual honesty equips me to understand my weaknesses in the light of His strength. It evaluates my attitudes by the fruit of the Spirit.
The apostle Paul was humble enough to consider himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), but honest enough to know God’s grace was sufficient; that God’s power was perfected in human weakness. If you aren’t honest about your weaknesses, then you’ll never know how God’s power can work in your life. But when you’re spiritually honest, you learn to rely on God’s power to do what cannot be done without Him.
Spiritual honesty drives a hunger for God’s presence and God’s Word. Nothing else can sustain or equip you to persevere when distractions and adversities come your way. Without this holy hunger, you will lack the resolve to move beyond the superficial nature of most New Year’s resolutions. Most people look to the new year with a desire for a better life on this planet. But living with an eternal perspective causes a longing for the rewarded life of eternity; a life hungry to hear, “Well done” from the lips of our Creator and King.
2023 and Beyond
I encourage you to go into 2023, and beyond, with a vision for eternity. Live like Abraham, “By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land…for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9–10).
Just keep in mind, living with an eternal perspective also comes with a warning. Those who prioritize eternity over the here and now often come under attack. Our king knows there will be times of struggle and despair, which is why He promises to “revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” The life lived for eternity is not one without adversity, but neither is it one without the promises and power of God.