Here we are three weeks into 2018. It seems as if January 1 was a long time ago, doesn’t it? One great thing about each New Year is the opportunity it brings for a new beginning. It is a time when people often evaluate their lives and consider ways that they can do better. For example, the gym where I exercise is crowded now with new people who have resolved to improve their physical fitness. We are all familiar with New Year’s Resolutions…and the fact that most of them do not last very long! But it does not have to be that way. Anyone who wants to be a better person, a better spouse, a better parent, a better employee, or to improve his or her life in any way should be encouraged to do so and to stick with it. There will almost always be struggles and temporary setbacks when striving for any worthwhile endeavor. This must be recognized, accepted, and not allowed to bring a discouragement that will lead to quitting the effort to improve. Even in the face of difficulty, stick with it until you achieve the desired result.
This approach to personal improvement is especially important regarding your spiritual life as a follower of Jesus. It is always great to see someone decide to obey the Gospel and become a member of the body of Christ. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see individuals become discouraged for one reason or another and quit being a follower of Christ. It can happen quickly or it can even happen after a number of years. Jesus speaks about this happening in the parable of the sower found in Luke 8:4-15. Many times when people become discouraged it is easier to quit rather than deal with the difficulty and find a good solution. The apostle Paul wrote this message from God for us in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
This is what I hear Paul saying: “Nothing is going to make me quit following Jesus.” Yes, I still sin from time to time and that is discouraging, but I am not going to quit. Yes, people say and do things that upset me and that is discouraging, but I am not going to quit. Yes, there are false teachers and other problems to face and that is discouraging, but I am not going to quit. No matter what happens, I will never quit being a follower of Christ. The things of the past are not what matters. What matters is that I press on with faith until I can be in Heaven with God!