Many people see the start of a New Year as a fresh start. It is a time where many people set goals for what they would like to see or achieve in the next 12 months. For some, it is a time to stroke off some more items on their bucket list. For others it is a chance to wipe away the bad habits of the previous year and start off with new healthy habits. Like, getting into a shape that is not round. No more eating unhealthy fatty foods and no more snacking after 7pm, ok 8pm, let's make it 9pm so it's achievable.
I imagine that it is because of these New Year's goals that more gym memberships and exercise equipment are sold in the month of January than any other month, maybe even combined!
Does Jesus have any goals for you and I? Does He have a purpose for all the information that we collect from Sunday morning messages, the books we have read, the studies we have participated or reading articles such as this one? I believe He does.
In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul writes to Timothy to encourage him to stay on track with the church of Ephesus while Paul moves on to other areas to minister. He warns Timothy because so many have gotten caught up going in the wrong direction because they had the wrong goal.
So what goal did Paul give to Timothy? He wrote, "but the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
Paul was reminding Timothy, that the purpose was not to just gather information, to become smarter or more learned. Instead, the goal was love.
But this love is not the love you and I find in the world. It is not the love that is centered on feeling good or happy or what you find on the cover of a Hallmark card. This is agape love. It is unconditional, I will do what is in our best interests, even at great personal cost, even if it means laying down my life. It was the love that Jesus displayed when He went to the cross for you and I.
This is why we need a pure heart, which is describing the unselfish nature of this love. That I am doing in order to get, but to give.
It is why we needed a good conscience, which is referring to the new righteous spirit that we received with our union with Christ on the cross.
But most importantly, we need a sincere faith because you and I are incapable of producing this kind of love on our own, even on a good day. Only Jesus can produce this kind of agape love, because He is love (1 John 4:16). So live from a sincere faith, trusting and depending upon Jesus to be Jesus in us. To agape love those He brings across our path.
Because ultimately, people don't need more goals, a better diet, more exercise or to even complete some of the items on their bucket list. What they need is to have an encounter with Jesus. And when we trust Jesus to live in and through us, both us and those around us get to have that encounter with love personified. And there is nothing better than that.
In Christ who is our Life,