by Tom McLemore
I would encourage us all to make New Year’s resolutions. Wouldn’t it be well, at the end of the coming year, to be able to look back and say, “I did well.” We would do well to examine what Scripture says about doing well!
We would do well to master sin. In Genesis 4:7, the Lord said to Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” To master sin, we must be aware of the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). There is also the sin which clings so closely (Hebrews 12:1; cf. the Authorized Version, “the sin which doth so easily beset us”). We must master sin, or sin will master us. The one who commits sin is the servant of sin (John 8:34; cf. Romans 6:14).
In the coming year, we would do well to manage our anger. In Jonah 4:4, “...the LORD said, ‘Do you do well to be angry?’” Later, when the plant that had shaded Jonah withered, “...God said to Jonah, ‘Do you do well to be angry for the plant?’ And he said, ‘I do well to be angry, angry enough to die’” (Jonah 4:9). Jonah was wrong.
The Scripture provides guidelines for managing anger. “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil....Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:26, 27, 31, 32). “Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God” (James 1:19, 20). In addition to keeping anger from leading us to sin, the Scripture also stresses the urgency of making things right when things go wrong (Matthew 5:21-26).
Keep from Defilement
As we live in the year to come, we would do well to keep from defilement. In Acts 15:29, a letter to Gentile Christians urged, “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” The letter included moral defilement (unchastity), which is every Christian’s concern. We must cleanse ourselves and keep ourselves clean (2 Corinthians 7:1; James 1:27). For this we have a great incentive: to be like Jesus who is coming (1 John 3:1-3).
Live by Your Faith
In the time ahead this year, we would do well to live by our faith. “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe –and shudder” (James 2:19). One does well to believe in the only true and living God. If one does well to believe, one does better to act upon that faith (James 2:14-26). We do well to confess faith; we do better to live by faith so that we do not have to say anything (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15).
Pay Attention to Scripture
How well we would do, should we all occupy ourselves with paying attention to Scripture this year! “And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). This must be a daily discipline (Acts 17:11). Read through the Bible each year. It requires a certain amount each day. As we read, we are being nourished daily (1 Peter 2:2). We do well to be workers in the word, rightly handling it (2 Timothy 2:15). We will be moved to daily reading if we remember the nature of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
Act as Befits God’s Service
“Beloved, it is a loyal thing you do when you render any service to the brethren, especially to strangers, who have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey as befits God’s service” (3 John 6). What John means is that in serving others, we are serving God. How would I act if it were God himself? Jesus himself? (Cf. Matthew 25:40, 45). The goal is “...to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). We have a great motivation “to lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). Wouldn’t it be grand to hear Jesus say, “They are worthy”! (Revelation 3:4).
So then, will we do well in the coming year? Determine to master sin, manage our anger, keep ourselves from defilement, live by our faith, pay attention to Scripture, and act as befits God’s service . We hope, at the end of the coming year, to look back and be able to say, “I did well.” In light of what we have considered from God’s word, we may be confident that the Lord will also say, “Well done!” “You have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes” (2 Kings 10:30; cf. Matthew 25:21, 23).
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