As we roll into a New Year we are constantly being encouraged to improve ourselves. Sales for organizational tools and exercise equipment remind us of areas that we need to work on, and spur us on towards self-betterment. Self-help books appear on shelves in droves and will tell you how to do anything from manage your time better, to lose that last 5 pounds.
Desiring to improve ourselves is not a bad thing. We should desire to be better in many things. But why do we desire it? And are we focusing on the wrong areas?
First and foremost, we need to desire God more. We need to desire to serve Him better, and to let Him work in every aspect of our lives. This is FAR more important than whether or not we stay on top of laundry or whether our craft cupboard is organized. We need to pursue relationship with Him, asking Him to ignite that desire in our hearts and strengthen us to follow through with our goal of knowing Him more intimately. This is not an area that falls under 'self-help'. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that we can't help ourselves when it comes to right relationship with God. We have been redeemed by the blood of our Savior, through no merit or works of our own, and we will be continually restored and renewed through the work of the Spirit, as it pleases the Father. Self-help books on your relationship with God should all be very short: Pray to Him, surrender to Him and let Him work in you.
Not only does this need to be the first priority, it needs to permeate through every other goal you set!
Why should we want our houses to be cleaner? To impress our company? Because so-and-so has such a clean house? Pride?
I am not a tidy person by nature. But I have identified a need in my life to improve on the cleanliness and order in my house because the Bible commands me to submit to my husband, and instructs me to help him, to care for him, and to serve him as an act of worship to God. My husband likes when our house is clean, therefore I clean my house, to serve my husband, to the glory of God.
Many of us struggle with body image and desire to lose a pound or two (or twenty). But why do we desire it? Because then our clothes fit better? Because we're embarassed by how we look? Because we crave the compliments we'll receive? Or because we seek to treat our bodies well, to stay healthy and be desirable to our husbands, for God's glory?
Often we take this time of year to relook at our finances. I'm sure the vast majority of us feel like we could do well to have a bit more money, and we all sit around at some point, wondering where we can cut back, how we can save and what we can do to possibly make sure there is more money in our account. But if we are doing all of this to save up for a debaucherous trip to Vegas, or so that we can spend money selfishly without guilt, or so we can excuse poor stewardship, it's wrong to desire that. When was the last time we sat down to relook our finances to see how we could give more to God's work?
It's not wrong to desire to improve, but the heart behind the desire can be wrong. We need to realize that things like healthy lifestyles, good organization and fiscal planning can be idols. In all things we need to set our gaze on our Heavenly Father and work for His glory.
So by all means, go through Pinterest and find wonderful ideas for ways to organize your linen closet, and how to keep your house clean, and recipes for low-fat, organic foods, but do it all to God's glory, because while God may not care how organized your pantry is, He does delight in the things we do as an act of worship to Him, which can be everything we do if our first and foremost desire is to serve Him.
To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen!