Most folks who set out to make New Year’s resolutions make a list. That list is pretty familiar, isn’t it? Lose weight. Eat better. Be nicer. Quit smoking. Go to church more. Be a better parent, husband, friend, or preacher. Write better bulletin articles. Read more books. Talk less. Listen more. If you’re like most folks – that list serves you well until January 3rd or so. It’s a great idea, but hard to follow through on.
Here’s a suggestion: what one thing in your life is holding you back from serving Jesus? There may be several things—but what is the biggest problem?
We’re kind of funny people. I hate cleaning my office—just ask Leslie! The best way to get me to clean my office is to assign me a task I like less. Suddenly, cleaning the office just got a lot easier. Sometimes we don’t focus on what is really important.
If your car has a leaking transmission, burns oil, and doesn’t have brakes, you’d be a fool to spend your time and money waxing it and installing a new stereo, wouldn’t you? If your house has a broken window, you need to fix it before you worry about new hardwood floors.
Our lives are the same way: while there are several things in each of our lives that interfere with our relationship with Jesus, in all likelihood, one of those problems is more severe and urgent than the others. We need to tackle the big problem first.
So throw out your list of resolutions. Identify the one thing that is doing more harm to your soul than anything else: one repeated sin, one neglected virtue, one continued disobedience or doubt, one nagging fear—just one!—confess it to a trusted friend, bring it to Jesus, and make it the target of your full-on assault this year. When (not if!) you conquer—then you can find the next thing.