January 3, 2018
Big Picture Priority
You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! Matthew 23:24
According to a survey, if you make a New Year’s resolution you are among only 40% of the population. If you keep it, you are among 44% of those that make them. Since a majority of us do not make them or keep them if we do, you may not need to know about the “holiday” coming up on January 17. It is “Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day”. Someone decided we needed an official day to acknowledge and drop those New Year’s resolutions that, after all, were not that doable.
That may not be relevant to you if you do not make them to begin with, but, in truth, we actually make resolutions quite often. We call it “bargaining with God” or promising him that we will “do better”. When yet another failure sabotages our good intentions, we repeat them with even more resolve, often inserting words like “never again” or “always”.
What we often miss is the big picture priority: a life of grace. Jesus took to task Jewish leaders who made laws and lists for themselves and everyone else. Call them resolutions. He called them hypocrites, because their lists were unimportant tasks that they themselves did not faithfully follow, even while demanding that others do. They were “straining at gnats and swallowing a camel.” That is, they majored in minors and failed to prioritize weightier matters such as “justice and mercy and faithfulness.” (v. 23)
Whether it is at the beginning of a new year or after a frustrating failure, focusing only on promises and resolutions we can’t keep perfectly is futile. Let us spend our time on the big picture, the grace of God that he has given us through Christ. It covers our failures and forgives our sins. May we not only receive it daily by faith, but also gladly share it freely with others. When we do, we will be less concerned about our lists and rules and successfully show “justice and mercy and faithfulness,” resolutions for which there is no day to ditch.
Where there is grace, there is peace.