David said, “From the end of the earth will I call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalms 61:2). Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus,” and, “I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12, 14).
As you consider the past year, have you been the strong Christian you had intended to be? Have you been as faithful as you think you should have been, or could have been? Have you grown to be more like Jesus Christ over the past year?
At the beginning of this New Year you will be challenging yourself with resolutions to take better care of your body, to be a better neighbor, a better parent and a better spouse. These are noble goals. But I want to challenge all of you to set your sights on a higher goal; a goal that is greater than all the earthly improvements a person could make. That challenge is to be a better Christian.
A better Christian will take better care of his or her body because it belongs to the Lord, not to you (1 Corinthians 6:20). A faithful Christian will strive to overcome those bad habits that hinder the health of the body so that he or she will have a long and productive life in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A better Christian will automatically be a better neighbor because of the second commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39). As a Christian grows to be more like Christ he or she understands better that when you sacrifice for your neighbor then you are sacrificing for Christ, and, you are laying up treasures for yourself in heaven (Matthew 25:40; 6:19-21).
A better Christian will also be a better parent. A better Christian observes closely how God brings up His children with love, admonition and discipline. God applies love liberally to His children. In turn God has provided parents to give admonition to the children, to bring them up in the right ways of God (Hebrews 12:5-7; Ephesians 6:1-2).
A better Christian will be a better spouse. A better Christian understands more deeply the relationship the church has toward her bridegroom – Christ (Ephesians 5:23-33). Christ’s love for His bride caused Him to give Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25). This deeper understanding reveals the true nature of agape, and is transferred to greater faithfulness of a husband for his wife and a wife for her husband.
If you accept the challenge to be a better Christian it will make every aspect of your life a better life. It will also cause your relationship with God and Jesus Christ to grow stronger. You will want to spend more time in prayer with God. A better Christian will take time to help his or her family grow closer to God.
Being a better Christian will automatically make you a better servant in the church. Better Christians gladly sacrifice their time and talents to help their Father. Our Lord Jesus Christ even gave His life’s blood for the church. The church was designed by God to be the place where Christians abide and serve and grow.
Now it is your turn to climb up higher, to press toward the goal of the upward call of God. The view of heaven is much better from up there.
In Christ, Steve Preston
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