By Tyler Warner
It’s become a cliché at this point to bellyache about 2020. But although we know our problems don’t care about the calendar, it’s nice to have a mental reset once in a while. The new year is a chance to evaluate our lives and see where we’ve gotten off track. And for many of us, our attitudes have suffered this year. Paul wrote about the proper godly mental attitude to the Thessalonian church, and I think his words could be helpful.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16, he said “Rejoice always”. This is a familiar concept in Scripture. We are not Stoics, who remain unaffected by life, nor Pantheists who deny the reality of suffering, we are Christians! Our mandate is to rejoice. To rejoice means to actively seek to let the truth of the Gospel rule in your life. The death and resurrection of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins and the hope of Heaven – these things are always true. Don’t let the hardships of life loom too large over you. As bad as things can get, there is still Good News. So rejoice, make merry and lift up your eyes in this New Year.
Second, the next verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing”. How can we rejoice always? How can we keep the truth of Jesus at the forefront of our minds through sickness and loss and persecution? Through prayer. Prayer is real communion with God, we speak to Him and He speaks to us. We are reminded of the character of the God who watches over us, and that calms us. When we pray for others it gives us perspective on our lives. And more than anything else – God answers prayer! Commit that in 2021, you will be a man or woman of prayer.
And third, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to “Give thanks in all circumstances”. This is about where we are going to focus our attention. Are we going to obsess over everything negative, or focus on the overwhelming positive of the Gospel? Active, out-loud gratitude forces us to think about things that breed joy. You have so much to be thankful for, but when was the last time you opened your mouth for each one? Remember to thank God for all the good that is so hard to realize sometimes. Determine to be more thankful in 2021 than you were in 2020.
This little passage ends with the words, “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. God does not delight in our misery. He sent His only Son to open up a wellspring of peace and joy and hope. As we head into a new year with all its unknowns, let the truth of that Good News fill your heart.
Happy New Year!
Tyler Warner is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Trussville. CCT meets on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m., at 5239 Old Springville Rd. Listen to Tyler’s verse-by-verse Bible teaching at CalvaryChapelTrussville.com or Sundays at 8:30 a.m. on 101.1 FM.