I absolutely love the last week of the year. It is perfectly nestled between the heights of Christmas and the hustle of the beginning of the new year. It lives in its own world and typically allows all of us a small reprieve from the day-to-day as well as a respite from the labor of the Christmas season.
It is in this week where year after year I, like many, begin to think about what my new year’s resolutions should be. Last year, I had 2 simple resolutions: to learn to use chopsticks and spill less food on myself - both are a work in progress.
However, when I think about 2023 the only thing on my mind is how can we make this year different? How can we charge into the new year and make it a year where we see God do all the things He promised. How can we create an atmosphere that allows God to lead our lives and bring us to new heights.
As I thought about this, I kept being drawn back to one verse,
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
If we want to make 2023 a transformational year in the lives of our friends, family, and church I think we have to embrace this verse.
When I think on 2022, and really the last few years, I think fear really does describe the situation we find ourselves in. Everything we hear, read, and see propagates fear in our lives. However, what we read in 2nd Timothy is exactly the opposite of that.
See, Paul understands that in a world devoid from Christ it is natural to live in fear but, with the promise of a Savior that came and died for us, we now know through Christ, we no longer have to be bound by the chains of fear in our life.
The great thing that Paul did in this passage is he moved beyond merely saying don’t be afraid and instead gave us 3 reasons why we should not fear.
We shouldn’t have a spirit fear because God gave us power. Power to change our circumstances, power to help those in crisis, power to battle the forces of evil on our world
We shouldn’t have a spirit of fear because God gave us love. Love for the people around us. Love that allows us to see others in the world struggling and to feel compassion for them just as Jesus saw us and descended from heaven due to that compassion.
We shouldn’t have a spirit of fear because God gave us a sound mind. When we face tough decisions, we no longer have to be filled with anxiety because we know God has equipped us with the ability to think and has guided our footsteps. God has given each of us the ability to think, plan, and pray, and when we make a decision, we can trust it is the right one.
The spirit of fear that may have held on to us the last few years can be thrown off because we can embrace the power, love, and sound mind God has bestowed upon each of us and with those three things in hand we can embrace a spirit of opportunity in 2023. An opportunity to affect the hearts and minds of those around us to be and love like Jesus more each day.
2023 will be different, and 2023 will be our year.