The beginning of a new year is a really exciting time. We tend to reevaluate our priorities and recommit to things that maybe have fallen by the wayside due to the realities of everyday life. Many churches do a time of prayer, fasting, and Bible-reading together as we commit to seeking the Lord together intentionally. It’s a beautiful time!
Sadly, the excitement at the beginning of the year typically wanes over time. New Year’s resolutions go out the window rapidly and we tend to fall back into the same patterns. The intentions we had at the beginning of the year aren’t all that solid by the second month of the year. Of course, I don’t write this in an attempt to shame anyone—I do this too. I think that discussing this is the first step to moving past it.
For the next few days, I want us to ask ourselves about the standard we want to set in 2021. Not what goals we want to achieve or habits we want to develop. What do we want our standard to be?
According to dictionary.com, a standard is “something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model.”
What do we want the approved model of 2021 to be? What is the high watermark of our year? Instead of setting a goal—what do we want our M.O. to become?
The world is screaming for us to live a certain way, but the ways of God are completely counter-cultural. My own desires tell me to do certain things in order to be happy, but that doesn’t necessarily line up with what God says. My culture tells me that this is how things are, but the Bible says something different.
I want to be more intentional throughout 2021 to draw my standard from the Bible, not from what’s culturally appropriate or what people deem as worthy or cool. I want to be courageous enough to pull my standard from God’s opinion, instead of my own.
I think that before we are able to decide what we want the standard to be going forward, we need to take some time to examine where we are now. Taking an honest look at our lives, our decisions, and our thought processes with the Lord is an important practice.
How do you decide your own standards?
I would like to say that I always use the Bible as the sole authority on my standard behavior and beliefs, but that just isn’t the case. I usually make decisions or take actions through a combination of what I think is right and what God says. If my preference and God’s word are in contradiction, usually I wage a little bit of an internal fight to see who wins out in the end.
If God’s word tells me to do something uncomfortable or something I just don’t like, then I’m going to be really slow with my obedience. I will drag my feet and make excuses or come up with loopholes to justify my own disobedience. Sadly, in certain areas of my life, the Bible is not my standard. But I want to change that.
2020 was a hard year and I think that 2021 is going to be a humbling year. As I wrote during the Infected Church series, I believe that God is judging the church. I think he’s giving us an opportunity to repent and return to him. Throughout this year, my guess is that we will be tempted to lower our standards, which is why I want to take the time and establish my standards now. Let’s choose today how we will respond when the storms come. Let’s examine our hearts in the light of Scripture and ask God to forgive anything that isn’t of him.
I think 2021 will be an incredible opportunity for the people of God to look like the people of God. Let’s examine our lives, our decision-making processes, and choose the standard we will set for 2021 and beyond.
What is your standard for decision-making?
How do you allow the Bible to inform your life?
I want to take Jesus at his word in 2021. I created a guide to help me walk through strategically and prayerfully caring for the “least of these” as Jesus instructed. Download your free guide today!