I don’t know what you have planned for this week, this month, this year. Our family is entering the pre-Kindy phase, where our little lady is heading off to a preschool class 3 days a week. I have been amazed at how much time I have been researching and planning, wanting to do everything in my power to help her schooling experience start off in a positive, smooth way (and also gleaming advice from other mothers who have done this before!). This, together with the fact we are toilet-training our little guy and expecting a new bub in April, has meant my thoughts haven’t been too far away from the immediate needs and the future needs of our family and more specifically, the children, over the next months.
I recently listened to Mark Dever’s New Year Sermon, “The One Who Humbles Himself Will Be Exalted”. In it, he discusses the fact that so much of our time is spent thinking about tomorrow and what we think the future will hold. He also points out that so much of what we think may happen in the future, impacts the decisions we make today, our present. Yet this whole way of doing things is fickle, because the future is one thing we simply do not know. As a way of thinking about the future, Dever discusses 3 resolutions founded on the Bible.
Luke 18:9-30 gives us some great principles as we think about the year ahead. In this passage, there are three resolutions we can make for ourselves:
- Confess Sins More Readily- So often, I gauge my sin in comparison to others. Like the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14, I often compare myself to others and self-righteously think I am doing okay, because I am not like that “Tax Collector.” I think comparing myself to others is a favourable exercise, or even something to that makes me feel better about myself. I might gossip, but I don’t do that like so-and-so; I might be prideful, but I certainly don’t do that. Yet in this, I rely on self-righteousness, rather than the true righteousness offered in Jesus. Salvation only comes through Jesus’ substitution; there is nothing we can bring to make Him ‘like’ us more. He loves, He has acted and now He offers complete righteousness through Jesus. It is the Tax Collector, who humbly comes before God and readily confesses his sin, who is righteous in God’s eyes. I long for my children to be quick to identify their sin and confess it- how much more would God long for this from us?
- Depend Completely on God- In Luke 18:15-17, the famous passage of people bringing children to God is recorded. The main point of this passage isn’t that children can and should come to Jesus (they should!); the point of this passage is that we should be completely dependent on Jesus, like children are dependent on their parents. Just as I know this new baby, when it arrives, will depend on us entirely for food, clothing, comfort; I need to come to God in this same way. I shouldn’t approach God and prayer only when I realise I can’t do something myself, He should be my first point of call. I need to recognise that being a citizen of heaven, a member of the Kingdom of God, relies entirely on God. I can’t in any way earn my way into God thinking better of me; it is completely God’s mercy that allows me into His presence and has caused the fullness of His love be directed my way. In this I need to humbly trust.
- Spend Everything I Have Serving God- Dever’s final resolve is to spend everything he has, everything he is, serving God. Unlike the Rich Ruler in Luke 18:18-30, who comes to God with his wealth, asking what else he needs to enter the Kingdom of God; everything we have needs to be spent on serving God. In response, Jesus tells the story of how hard it is for the camel to go through the eye of the needle (Luke 18:25), not to show that the rich have to try harder, but to illustrate that “what is impossible with man, is possible with God”(Luke 18:27). It is a privilege to be able to use everything we have serving God, out of a heart of gratitude and thanks for God making salvation possible.
As I listened to Mark Dever’s sermon, I was challenged and encouraged. As we look to the week, month and year ahead, may it be our resolve to confess our sin readily, depend on God and spend our lives serving and glorifying Him.