Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:14-18 (New Living Translation)
The new year is upon us. Why does it seem like they roll around a lot faster than they did when I was younger? Every year, on New Year’s Eve, we look at the past year, taking account of all the good and bad from the year, what we did well, what we could have done better, what we shouldn’t have done at all. And we celebrate all the good things from the year — time spent with family, blessings of family and friends, achievements throughout the year. Then on New Year’s Day, we make resolutions about how we want to improve our lives over the next year. We resolve to lose weight (if we are over our healthy limit), to be nicer, to stop habits that aren’t good for us and to help others.
The Apostle Paul also had some ideas for how to live better and be more effective as Christian witnesses in the world. Some of his words are still sound advice for today. Encouraging others, taking care of those who are weak in health and in faith and being patient, joyful and thankful are great resolutions for the New Year. Standing up for justice and doing good to others are also great resolutions. Getting rid of laziness is a wonderful resolution. John Wesley said it this way: “Be diligent. Never be unemployed. Never be triflingly employed. Never trifle away time; neither spend any more time at any one place than is strictly necessary.” John Wesley knew the value of time and wanted others to learn to value every minute as he did.
Here’s another great resolution to consider: “Pray without ceasing.” Our life should be one long conversation with God. That doesn’t mean that we have to stay on our knees all day, but it does mean that we should do everything with a prayer on our minds and a song in our hearts. We can silently pray for those in the grocery line instead of complaining that they are taking too long. We can pray for the people who cut us off in traffic instead of blurting out words that are less than honorable. When we keep our minds filled with the things of God, there will be no room for other things that weigh us down and steer us away from God.
So why not take the advice of the Apostle and make prayer a priority in your life? In the new year, I resolve to spend more time praying. What about you?
Jan McCoy is associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.