• Tom Strode

Four priorities for a new year

Making or keeping New Year's resolutions has never been a strong point for me. As an example, my goal in 2019 was to read 20 books, as I recall. I read five. Despite such failures, the start of a new year still seems to be a good time for me to remind myself of what is truly important.

What follows are four priorities I intend to live by in 2020. This is not an exhaustive list. I could certainly name other priorities, but these seem to be uppermost in my mind entering 2020.

1. Jesus is Lord.

The priorities that follow mean little without this one being pre-eminent. I must deny myself and take up my cross daily and follow Jesus. He must be my Master in not only what I do but in how I do it and in how I think about it. Someone will be Lord in my life at each moment of this year. Grievously, it often could be me. My desire, however, is that I would gladly and increasingly submit to Jesus as Lord of all.

2. People are more important than possessions, positions or projects.

Everyone is my neighbor. The greatest commandment next to loving God fully is loving neighbor as self. Sadly, I can be prone to self love rather than selfless love. Life is about relationships -- with God, then others. I need to ruthlessly and repeatedly remind myself of the superior importance of others made in God's image over pursuits that fall short of serving others as Jesus did. (By "positions," I mean those of rank, reward or authority.)

3. The church is more important than the country.

I have come to realize more adequately in recent years the significance of making this distinction in my own thinking. I should fulfill my God-given responsibilities as a citizen, but I should not make the mistake of confusing America and its agenda with the kingdom of God and His agenda. For me, the name of Christ and the testimony of His church outrank the mission and future of the country.

4. Corporate worship is the most important gathering I will participate in each week.

The meeting of God's people to worship Him, to hear from Him, to proclaim His gospel, and to encourage and admonish each other has no equal in significance and impact for those of us who have been adopted into His family. This weekly assembling of the body of Christ reminds us of our hope, changes us in ways we may not recognize and identifies us with the saints already gathered in worship around His throne.

I will fail to abide by these priorities multiple times in the year ahead. That is a sad reality. But they remain my commitments. May God grant me the needed grace. I invite you to join me as we follow Jesus and seek to live in accordance with the priorities He has for us.

-- Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash


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