Welcoming 2023 With a Fresh Perspective
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16, ESV)
Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1, ESV)
If we spend some time reflecting on the verses above that challenge us to live our lives for God, we really have no need to go further in our reading today. How different a year would look if we embraced each of these Scriptures and obediently followed them. But for the sake of our devotional time today, let’s look at these three commands briefly.
Let your light shine: First, we might consider what dulls our light, making this reminder necessary. The world is never described as being a place of light, but rather a place of darkness. Sin causes that darkness, and as earth dwellers, the darkness often presses in on us. The pressure to conform to the standards of the world is a continual battle, and if we aren’t diligent our light won’t remain bright.
As we look ahead to a new year, may we have the desire to “lighten up” spiritually. This Scripture points out that our good works will reflect His Light, bringing glory to our heavenly Father. Good works are not meant to buy us favor with God, but rather to give evidence of His Spirit within us. When we are enjoying close fellowship with Christ, it will naturally flow from us as Light in a dark world.
Encourage love and good works in others: Fellowship is an essential ingredient of our Christian faith; as Christ followers, we need other members of the Body of Christ. Among the many reasons fellowship is good for us is that we are meant to encourage one another in living out a godly testimony. This means we will need to be familiar enough with one another to see areas where we can encourage godly efforts and an outpouring of love.
How can we become familiar with one another? We do this by faithfully attending a Christ-centered place of worship and being interested in the lives of others. If we are not present, we are not able to carry out the principles found in Scripture commanding us to bear burdens of fellow believers and be a present help to one another in our service to the Lord.
Present your bodies as a living sacrifice: As redeemed Christians, we have a debt greater than we could ever repay. Jesus became the sacrifice for our sin, removing God’s judgment from us by taking it on His own body. We say we want to honor Him for all He has done for us, and yet we often simply don’t. Sometimes we allow things into our bodies and we allow our bodies to do things that clearly dishonor our Lord, but it shouldn’t be that way.
As we begin a new year, may we look for ways we can truly honor Christ by allowing His Spirit, not our flesh, to direct us. This will require self-discipline, and at times even sacrifice, but the reward is eternal. Choosing to honor God with our bodies is a form of worship; it reflects where our hearts truly lie.
So moving into 2023, may we be willing to take these three commands with us into each day of the year. When we get to the end of a year, we will never feel disappointed that we gave too much of ourselves to Christ—quite the opposite. May this year be one in which we seek to honor the Lord with renewed obedience, with faithful hearts, and with the exercise to encourage others to joyfully share in the work He has for us. Shine, brothers and sisters—the world needs our Light!