Happy New Year!
I hope that as you are looking out over the next 365 days, your heart is full of faithful anticipation for wonderful things to come. During this time each year, I’m reminded of the goodness of our God – to give us seasons, patterns, and cycles to renew our mind, bodies, and spirits.
The natural progression of the seasons – the leaves changing colors, falling, budding, and regrowing – signals us to progress and change as well. The timed patterns we observe in nature are intrinsically woven into our human nature as well. A brilliant design, evidence of a brilliant Creator. Seasons. Old becoming new. Work giving way to rest. Renew. Repeat.
So as we enter 2018, let’s take hold of the natural progression and motivation of a New Year and commit to become better stewards of all the Lord has entrusted to us. Let us tune our hearts, minds, and finances to the gentle prompts of our Heavenly Father. Pay attention to see how He uses your faithfulness for His purposes.
Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I don’t know what all happened in your 2017, but now is the time to renew your mind for 2018. There may be hurts, offenses, and strongholds you need to let go of. There may be people you need to forgive, and others you need to ask forgiveness.
Sin forms as an impure thought, an idea, a lingering stare, an unchecked agenda. That impure thought gives way to a temptation, which gives way to a desire to sin, followed by the sinful action itself, and ending with an acceptance of the evil committed. Sin’s progression can be instantaneous – like a small child lying when caught doing something wrong – or can take months, even years to take form. But it will surface.
Stewardship doesn’t just apply to your money, body, or recycling habits. We are charged to steward our thoughts as well. When you neglect to renew your mind, you are vulnerable to Satan’s lies and temptations.
Genesis 4:7 – “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
When sin is trying to take hold of you, you must first recognize it (the impure thought, the temptation, the desire to sin), and immediately take that thought captive. Forgive, don’t take offense, reject a prideful spirit. Turn to Scripture and renew your mind with truth.
The renewal of your mind leads to discernment. And discernment is an essential ingredient to becoming a steward. Make it a regular practice this year.
First Corinthians 6:19-20 – “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
If you went to the gym this morning, you may have experienced an overwhelming number of people starting their New Year’s resolutions. It is, in fact, January 2, so you can say goodbye to your favorite elliptical for the next 3 months.
Though the majority of Americans make resolutions to have healthier lifestyles, and the majority of them don’t make it the whole year, taking care of your body is an important part of every stewards’ life.
I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many nations over the course of my career, and have seen some of the most exquisite architecture, paintings, and sculptures in existence. I often imagine how precious a single painting is to the painter who created it. The time, effort, and creative energy that went into creating it is astounding. Now just imagine if I was walking through one of these museums with the actual artist whose work is on display. We walk up to the artist’s most prized painting, and stand together, admiring the detailed intricacies of it. Then suddenly, I throw neon paint all over the canvas. I break the frame that’s holding it, smear dirt and dust across the surface, and show a complete disrespect for the art and artist.
It may be a silly analogy, but that’s essentially what we do when we don’t take care of our bodies. Gluttony, laziness, overworking, and neglect of our physical form is an insult to the Creator who designed each of us with unique purpose and intent.
Commit to eat right, exercise, sleep, and practice healthy habits this year.
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
In addition to wanting to adopt healthier lifestyles, a majority of Americans have resolved to improve their finances as well. This resolution is one I am deeply passionate about, because God had to completely transform my finances and life years ago. I was so focused on becoming a success in the eyes of the world that I missed God’s intent for me to become His faithful steward, or manager.
I try to remember it this way: stewardship is not ordering your finances in such a way that you can spend whatever you want. It’s ordering your life in such a way that God can spend you however He wants.
My wife and I have had to work through this principle together, and she’s been a huge help to me. We’ve had to agree on our money philosophy together. We have adopted God’s financial principles as our guide as the basis for our decisions.
Since it all belongs to God, just like the game Monopoly, at the end of our lives, it all goes back in the box. We don’t take our houses, cars, or possessions with us to Heaven. So we don’t get caught up in what we have here on Earth.
Focus on aligning your priorities with God’s priorities for your finances this year. Wherever you are starting, commit to be faithful. Crown has many practical resources to help you get out of debt, save, plan, and budget. And if you want to dive deeper into what God says about every area of your finances, I want you to enroll in Crown’s online MoneyLife Personal Finance Course. It’s an in-depth 7-week class that will help you align your heart, finances, and mind with Scripture.
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