I would disagree.
Our walk as disciples is one that should be purposeful and not random. When Jesus enters us through the Holy Spirit our life is changed. We are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come (2 Cor.5:17). What this means is we begin a process which is called sanctification where we become more like Jesus and less like ourselves. God provides salvation, it’s by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. That’s His part. But after that we have to do something with this amazing gift. Paul encourages us to work out of salvation (Phil.2:12) while James exhorts us to be doers of the word and not listeners only (James 1:22).
That means we have a part to play.
When Paul was mentoring a young pastor named Timothy he used the analogy of an athlete. As a track coach I like that but the point is the same whether you’re an athlete or not: train yourself to be godly (1 Tim 4:7). We have spiritual muscles that need to be used and challenged to grow. If not, we can fall into spiritual sloth. How do we train ourselves? How do we even know if we’re growing or not? We set goals and then assess how we’re doing, adjusting along the way. There’s no magic to this or ‘secret sauce’ missing, there’s only purposefully doing it.
That’s where it gets tough.
We have to fight our tendency towards apathy and spiritual laziness all the time fighting an enemy who doesn’t want us to grow in God. If we don’t, well, our relationship with God will dwindle, our light will be dull, and there will be little joy in our Christian experience.
While there are lots of great goals to make here are a couple of questions to ask yourself at the beginning of the year (or your birthday, spiritual anniversary or some milestone):
- What’s one thing you can do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
- In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year and what will you do about it?
- What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
There are dozens of questions you can ask. The point is to take some time at some point in the year and look at what progress you’ve (hopefully!) made during the time period and then look to see what steps you can take to continue to grow. Jesus talked about a tree that doesn’t bear fruit in its life being cut off while those that do are pruned (John 15:2). That can be (and should be!) pretty sobering. How do you know if you’re bearing fruit? By looking at what you’ve done. How do you prune? By looking at your life and making the changes needed to grow in Christ. It’s not just a command from the Lord, it’s actually pretty practical and has a transformational impact on your life.
God has given us a tremendous opportunity to impact our life and the lives around us. So why don’t you consider setting some spiritual goals for yourself after doing an assessment along the way to having a great 2016? Train yourself to be Godly!