It’s now February so it’s time to ask: how are your New Year’s resolutions going? Maybe your resolution falls in the usual categories of exercising more, eating healthy, losing weight, quitting a habit, saving money, or getting organized. While all of those are admirable goals and ideas, the reality is that many of us don't stick to them. Sometimes the goals are too ambitious or too lofty. But in the midst of all this talk about resolutions, are we missing something major that could produce a lasting change on our lives?
To put it into a Sunday School answer, that's Jesus. But to give you a better idea of what that looks like, we've listed 10 ways you can live for Jesus in 2019.
It shouldn't be a surprise or a secret that in order to live for Jesus, you need to make time with him a priority. Otherwise, you won't know how to live for him. It doesn't matter what time of day it is, morning, night, or in the middle of your work break; you just need to make time with God. It can look like carving out time to read a passage or two from your print Bible or Bible app. It could be finally setting aside time to sit down and read that devotional book you bought in the bookstore a few years ago.
No matter what it looks like, make sure it's intentional. If you're planning your time with God ahead of time and ensuring your relationship with God is number one, then your goal of living for Jesus is going to be that much more attainable.
Resource Recommendation: Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan coauthored by our founder, John D. Barry.
Jesus calls us to forgive other people as he has forgiven us and he calls us to outrageous levels of forgiveness (see Matthew 18:21–22). If God can forgive us for our sins and still love us unconditionally, we should be able to do the same for those around us. It's not easy, God didn't say it would be, but it's something we can do that will clearly set us on the path of living for Jesus.
Sometimes it'll be easy to forgive someone, especially if you have a close relationship and you know they're sincere. But sometimes, the person you forgive won't have even apologized. They won't seem "deserving" of your forgiveness. But then again, we aren't deserving of God's, but we have it anyway. Shouldn't we aim to do the same for others? Knowing how it makes us feel—redeemed, hopeful, and renewed—wouldn't we want others to experience those same feelings when we have the chance to forgive them? It won't be something you'll be able to do overnight, but if you seek God, you'll find the strength to forgive eventually and the both of you will be better for it.
Resource Recommendation: No Apology Needed: Learning to Forgive as God Does by Jesus’ Economy Board Member, Nathan Byrd.
A phrase we see repeated in the Bible is to lift each other up or exhort one another (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 5:11). When we encourage those around us, we make the world a more positive and uplifting place. Too often we let the world get the best of us, allowing ourselves to join in the criticism and negativity, which can even lead to a mindset of hate. Jesus has called us to exhort one another and spur each other toward Christ. If we can find ways to do that, the hearts of those in this world might be filled with love.
Consider how one simple note or word of encouragement boosts you or helps you get through your week. Now think about what you could do for others if you sent a text, email, or spoke encouragement into someone's life. It doesn't take longer than a few minutes, but it could change someone's whole day or week.
Community is important. When you're part of a small group of other Christians, it becomes like a second family. They lift you up, hold you accountable, celebrate with you, and pray with and for you. The New Testament teaches us to be part of Christian community and to make it a regular part of our lives (Hebrews 10:25). A small group will spur you toward Christ and bring you out of the dark places when you face them. And you'll be able to do the same for the others in the small group.
Most churches have small or community groups, so look into if your church has them. If they don't, start one! You can also start one among your friends, you don't have to go to the same church to be in the same small group.
Resource Recommendation: There are a host of Bible studies—designed for small group use—written by our founder, John D. Barry, and available right here on JesusEconomy.org.
For some praying might come easily, but for others it can be an obstacle to overcome. Whether you aren't sure where to start or what to pray for or when, it can be a place where you're stalled out in your faith. The good news is that once you start praying more, the easier it gets and the more you do it.
Once again, you can start out small. Don't get caught up in the order of the prayer, leave that for later. Just talk to God, tell him about your day, your needs, your gratefulness; keep the communication line open. It doesn't have to always end in "Amen," in fact it can be a running conversation throughout your day. Your prayers do not have to be full of lofty words; just start talking to God. Lay your heart out to him; he wants to hear it. Eventually, it will become natural; you will start praying and won't even realize you started.
Resource Recommendation: Try using the Pray as You Go app or podcast. It offers 10 to 15 minutes per day of contemplative music, Scripture reading, and prayerful meditation.
When we're surrounded by so much great literature, it can be difficult to remember that nothing takes the place of actually digging into God's Word on a daily basis.
Starting out small will help you get into a daily routine. Read one verse a day, or set a timer to read the Bible for just 5 minutes. You can start with a familiar book or passage, or open your Bible to a random spot and start reading. If you start out small, it will be more attainable and you can work up to reading more and for longer. It may also help to consider adding a study Bible to your routine since that can clarify the difficult passages.
Resource Recommendation: Faithlife Study Bible is a great resource for digging into the Word. Our founder, John D. Barry, served as General Editor for this product. You can also set up Bible reading plans using the free Faithlife Study Bible app.
Jesus is compassionate and showed it in the life he led on Earth. For example, when Jesus is being arrested and one of his disciples cuts off a servant's ear, what does Jesus do? He heals the man and instructs the disciple to stop. He knows he's about to be taken and what's about to happen, but that doesn't stop him from being compassionate toward one of the people persecuting him (compare Luke 6:26–36).
It's easy to let the little things get to you. Someone cutting in line, bad drivers, a rude coworker, the disobedient child, the list goes on of things that make us feel upset and want to lash out. But you have to stop and ask yourself, "is what's making me upset right now really going to matter in five years or even one year?" If the answer is “no,” then it’s probably best to let it go. Take a deep breath and offer compassion and kindness. The person on the receiving end might need it more than you realize. And try to remember, if Jesus could be compassionate toward those who wanted to see him crucified, I think we can be compassionate to the parent who cuts us off in the drop-off lane.
More and more often we read about stories of someone taking their life; the victims of suicide seem to get younger and younger. Meanwhile, those who need help in other aspects of life such as finances, household chores, etc. sometimes won't reach out because they feel like a burden.
It's easy to let our lives get so busy that we feel like we don't have time to think of anyone outside of our immediate family and work circles. But it's vital that we do. Jesus has called us to serve other people we should never ignore our neighbors in need (e.g., Luke 10:25–37). We're to love them and empower them. So when you read that social media post that seems like a cry for help or hear that someone is having car trouble, reach out. Talk to them and find out what you can do that would empower them to solve the problem.
Resource Recommendation: If you’re looking for long-term solutions to empowering people in your community, check out our founder’s new book, Jesus’ Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.
Spreading the good news of the gospel is one of the commandments Jesus has given us (Matthew 28:18–20). His love and sacrifice saves and redeems us, bringing us into life eternal with him (John 3:16–18). So why wouldn't we want others to experience that too? How selfish of us to keep it to ourselves! It's a cliche, but we should be shouting it from the rooftops. We aren't afraid to exclaim our love for just about everything else in our lives, so why not Jesus and his gift of salvation?
This can be scary, especially when Christians can come across as intolerant, Bible-thumping know-it-alls. The key is to build a relationship with those around you, showing them the attributes of Jesus that live in you. Then when opportunities present themselves, tell them about Jesus and what he's done for you. Begin by serving other people and wait for conversations to emerge from there.
Resource Recommendation: Become part of the movement of people sponsoring church planting efforts in areas where people have never heard the name of Jesus. Plant churches in Bihar, India with Jesus’ Economy.
God is love (1 John 4:7–21). We hear it all the time. We know it to be true. We read about how wide and deep the love of Jesus is. We witness it in our own lives when he continues to love us no matter how many times we mess up. And he calls us to do the same. Our greatest commandment? Love God, and the second greatest is like it: We are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 26:36–40).
But what does that really look like? It's investing time and effort into your relationships. It's celebrating with those who celebrate and mourning with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). It's supporting other people and showing them you have their back. It's speaking the truth into someone's life when they're making bad choices. It's putting their needs before your own. And when you love deeply and generously, I believe you'll see a change. Love gets through, in some way or another, every time.Resource Recommendation: Part of loving generously is using our finances for the betterment of other people. This can come in how we can give and how we shop. Consider shopping fair trade with Jesus’ Economy this year and give to a cause you’re passionate about.