“Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Every day, of course, is ‘the first day of the rest of your life.’ And thus, every day is an opportunity to consider again, and address ourselves afresh, to “the race that is set before us.” But New Year’s Day has a peculiar effect on us – pushing us, by some (perhaps God-given) inner clock, to take stock, and to re-up, and to resolve afresh, and to thoughtfully look out over the next 365 days’ worth of “the race that is set before us” and think it all through. And this yearly calendrical reminder of the need for self-assessment, planning, and goals is a good thing – one that we are wise to make use of in service to our own souls! And I trust many of you are already taking the opportunity in hand … and that a few more of you might, after reading this article.
And as you do so, I do want to urge you to think of 2017 as ‘the first year of the rest of your life;’ the first year of the rest of your Christian race. And I urge you, from our text above, to ask three questions as you consider this next leg of that race:
1. What sin must I lay aside this year? What was the sin, in 2016, “which so easily entangle[d]” me? And how must I, by God’s grace, lay it aside in the year 2017? Indeed, how might I begin that process today, on this first day of the rest of my race?
2. How might I “run with endurance” this year? What slackening of my spiritual pace have I fallen prey to in recent weeks or months? What temptations might there be to pull off to one side of the track in 2017? And how am I going, by God’s grace, to keep from being like Aesop’s hare, or like Bunyan’s pilgrim, and laying down in the middle of the Christian race?
3. How am I going to fix my eyes on Jesus this year? Here is the key to both running with endurance and laying aside our sin – “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” And so how will I do that in 2017? What plans do I have for Scripture reading, meditation, prayer, and Sunday worship … all of which are not merely boxes to check off, but active ways to keep my eyes on Christ, toward whom I am to continually run?
Answer these questions well – and do what your answers say you should do – and 2017 will be a year of great progress and faithfulness. May the Lord direct our steps!