An old year has passed. Happy New Year! As we have ushered out 2011 and begin 2012, we make our resolutions and reflect upon how quickly time passes, especially as we grow older. Personally, I am looking forward to the opportunities that God will present to us here at Southwest, and have full assurance that great things can happen! Thus, as we begin a new year, let us examine how we should live life in 2012.
First, let us remember yesterday as if it had never happened. Of course, this does not mean that we should not reflect upon past failures to learn from them and such like. However, so much undue stress today happens when people bring their problems forward into the present. God did not make us to be able to deal with the problems of yesterday that we bring into the present challenges of the current, present day. This is why God encourages us through Peter, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). The apostle Paul understood this point quite well when he declared, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto things which are before” (Phil. 3:13). Jesus warned us, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Not only can clinging too tightly onto yesterday result in extra undue stress, but it can also lead to those who through pride “live in the past” and fail to grow. Therefore, let us remember yesterday as if it had never happened.
Second, let us live today as if it were our last day. Far too often, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives and fail to heed this important advice. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus discussed the worry of physical needs when he stated, “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven…” (Matt. 6:30; Luke 12:28). However, if we took this seriously and lived our lives as if there would be no tomorrow, how much more faithful would we be? How much more loving would we be? How much more forgiving would we be? How much more prepared would we be? Because of the approaching persecution, this is why the Hebrew writer no less than three times states in his epistle, “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts…” (3:7-8, 15; 4:7). The Hebrew writer wrote, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God, but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12-13). If we lived today as if it were our last, it would be much easier for us to “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2). If we lived today as if it were our last, it would be much easier to “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” as “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (1 Pet. 2:11; cf. Heb. 11:13), because as Moses, it would be easier to choose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25). Think about how much more faithful we would be to the Lord and more opportunistic towards our family, friends and everyone with whom we encounter. Therefore, let us live today as if it were our last day.
Third, let us plan for tomorrow with the will of God in our mind. This is the absolute point James makes in James 4:13-17:
Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
As we make our plans for 2012, we should not ever make them without consideration for the will of God! If we are not careful, we can make future plans as if we are certain about the future, but such is not true! These people to whom James refers acted as if they knew what they were going to do, when they were going to do it, where they were going to go, how long they were staying and even how profitable their ventures would be. Yet, they did not say one thing about including God in their plans. While we know the end of this life is approaching, we do not know when such will take place (2 Pet. 3:10). Everyone who has ever faced any unseen adversity knows that we cannot anticipate when such will happen. In other words, the future is unclear! Let us be sure to understand that James is not condemning the act of making plans for the future at all. For example, the apostle Paul commended the Corinthians for their plans (2 Cor. 8:1-11; 9:1-7). Nevertheless, James is condemning the failure of including God and His will in our plans! Thus, the questions that ought to dominate our minds as we plan 2012 include, “What is the will of God in reference to this matter? What does God want me to do?” God is in control! At least, God ought to be in control of our lives!
Therefore, how should we live life in 2012? Let us remember yesterday as if it never happened, live today as if it were our last day to live, and plan for tomorrow with the will of God in our minds.