Resolve this year, to “buy the field…”
What does that mean?
Before I explain, I want you to do a little health check on your New Year’s resolutions and see how they’re coming along. Don’t worry. There won’t be an official score card... but I do want you to think about them for a moment.
Yes. Right now.
Think about your commitments. We’re just a couple weeks into the year. Some of you are thinking, “What resolutions?” and that’s ok. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a few new ones to consider.
So, what do I mean when I say “resolve to buy the field this year”?
Looking at Matthew 13:44 will give you the answer.
Matthew 13:44 is one of my favorite passages in the entire Bible – one, because it frightens me, but two, it speaks deeply to my fickle and foolish heart. It challenges me to center my world around Jesus. This is what it says:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46
Are you that man or woman? I WANT to be that man this year.
Is buying the field on your list of resolutions this year? Is buying the pearl of great value your goal?
DA Carson says this about goals:
“The better we know God, the more we will want all of our existence to revolve around him, and we will see that the only goals and plans that really matter are those that are somehow tied to God himself, and to our eternity with him.”
Time is Short
In light of eternity, time is short.
We have many potential goals in front of us each day, but before we take one more step, before we attend one more meeting, before we work on one more task, take the time to resolve that our focus will first and foremost be on one thing: the Kingdom of God.
Time is short. Are we buying the field?
Speaking of time, hands down, time has got to be one of the most incredible things ever contemplated, let alone actually created. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to create time itself?
I’m sure you can think of other incredible parts of God’s creation, but simply put, time stands uniquely in a category of its own. So what does this have to do with your New Year’s resolution list? Let me try to offer a prerequisite consideration before you galvanize and lock in a freshly minted set of commitments.
In all of creation, time has been one of the most worshiped, feared, loved, hated, measured, analyzed, and even sung about things. A lot of mystery surrounds time, but people throughout generations have generally understood one clear thing about time: they cannot master it.
Time, in the physical creation, stands with limited company in a category of things that are simply out of our control. We cannot make it. We cannot gift it – some of you may have received a new watch for Christmas, and yet not a single hour added to your day! We cannot speed it up or slow it down, and we certainly cannot stop or start it.
Did you realize that time is mentioned more than 700 times in the Bible?
God’s Word is tied together into two major divisions – the Old Testament and the New Testament – which are literally split in the middle by time itself, through the incredible advent of the birth of Christ.
Galatians 4:4 tells us that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…” What’s more amazing is we know that at the appointed time, Christ will return for His Church in glory.
Mark 13:32-33 tells us “concerning the day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” Verse 37 goes on to commend us to “stay awake!” I don’t know about you, but in considering these passages my New Year’s resolutions are growing exponentially!
But you know what, while some of our New Year’s resolutions over the years have been lost to time, left unfinished, incomplete – Grade F… God’s watch has not slowed down one bit. Not a moment is lost – He is accomplishing His purpose with every passing second.
On the other hand (no pun intended), time is the one thing this world is running out of, and quickly. You and I, we are running out of time.
Time is short.
Why Time Matters
Second, I’d like to challenge you this morning to consider why you should work and toil after this list of things. The WHY always matters.
Ecclesiastes 4:4 says: “…then I saw that all of the toil and skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind”. The author goes on in verse 6 to say: “Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.”
Not only is time short, but I’m afraid that much of our activity in light of eternity will one day look like a “striving after wind” because we missed the WHY. We need to remind ourselves that the gate is narrow.
If your New Year’s resolutions don’t align with the Kingdom of God, I might encourage you today to reconsider your list. As they say, time is marching on, and as of today each of us are one day closer to eternity – the finish line of our race.
Resolve this year, at your workplace… and in your home… and in your church, to make every second count for eternity.
With all this in mind, I have five recommendations for you to consider adding to your list of resolutions – perhaps you’re an overachiever and you want to tackle all five – after all, tick-tock… right??
Well, I agree. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Let us work while it is day!
5 Kingdom-Minded New Year’s Resolutions for 2022
1. Commit to deepening your love for Jesus this year – buy the field:
You know there’s a wonderful old hymn we used to sing growing up. The lyrics went something like this:
There's within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still
In all of life's ebb and flow
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Sweetest name I know
Fills my every longing
Keeps me singing as I go
How do we deepen our love for Jesus this year? It is only by the work of the Holy Spirit, but let me offer three simple, practical ideas for how you may want to challenge yourself this year.
- Implement family worship in your home. Lead your family to the foot of the cross. Maybe after dinner tonight spend an hour reading scripture, singing praises, and asking your family how you can pray for each other.
- Commit to time in prayer every day. I know this sounds simple, but I mean it! Some of us simply need the reminder that you’re not spending enough time before the throne of God. If you have dedicated time to pray in your routine, consider doubling it this year. If you’re like me and need a little help, three books that I’ve found incredibly helpful in this area I would commend to you are:
- “Piercing Heaven”… this is not a daily devotion… this is a powerful compilation of prayer.
- “Valley of Vision” Somewhat older English, but you may want to consider this resource
- “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Don Whitney
- Sing! Your voice was given by God Almighty himself. Worship him in song, even if you’re not good at it. Greet each other with hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs! Tell of the greatness of our God to those around you; sing of his wonderful deeds! Don’t wait for the formal time every Sunday morning when it is “permitted”… Sing! And then sing some more! You will find your heart melting before the throne of God before you know it.
2. Kill sin this year.
There are several wonderful books about killing sin, but I would encourage you to focus on God’s Word.
Ephesians 6 is a great place to start – Ephesians 6:11 tells us: “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.”
Some of you today are struggling, wrestling with flesh and blood. How about politicians… have any of them make you mad lately? Regulators… TV commentators… they are not the enemy. Our neighbor down the street who has different political views than we do – remember, we wrestle not against flesh and blood – they are not the enemy. We must know the true enemy.
Then consider moving to James.
James 1:22 tells us to “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
Romans 8:13 tells us that killing sin is critical to life, “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die… but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
There is plenty of ground to cover here, but commit this year to asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the deeds of the body that need to be put to death this year.
If you’d like an old trusted voice and resource, consider picking up a copy of The Mortification of Sin by John Owens this year. It will challenge you and bless your walk with the Lord.
3. Be in the Word: Study Scripture. Meditate on Scripture. Memorize Scripture. Love and cherish Scripture.
You know, I’ve done the count. There is a statistic that I’ve literally lost sleep over. One that keeps my mind and heart in humble check. Did you know there are 129 million books in the world. Do the math – if you’re really good and you consistently read 1 solid book per month for the next 20 years, that’s 240 books. You’re not even scratching the surface.
If you work even harder and read 1 book per week without fail for the next 20 years, that’s 1,040 books, total. That’s it! 1,040.
You’re physically incapable of consuming even 1% of all literature in the world. In fact, Google estimates that with an average lifespan of 79 years, you would need to read 1.7M books per year just to cover what is already published. What do we do with this sobering fact?
We focus. And we focus hard. Zero in, and quickly, on what matters most. Everything else is a shadow. Don’t chase shadows. Study Scripture. Meditate on Scripture. Memorize Scripture this year.
Pray that the Lord will grant you a love for his testimony as the psalmist calls it - a love for his precepts, a love for his law, a love for the Word of God.
Psalm 119:4 tells us, “You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently….”
Psalm 119:15 tells us, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.”
Psalm 119:27 tells us, “Make me understand the way of your precepts and I will meditate on your wondrous works.”
Psalm 119:40 tells us, “Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!”
Psalm 119:56 tells us, “This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.”
Be in the Word my friends. He has commanded us to keep his precepts, keep our eyes fixed on his ways, meditate on his precepts and wondrous works, and long for his precepts.
Oh, what blessing that falls to us when we keep his precepts!
4. Commit to loving others.
Consider deeply this year’s opportunities that you may have to love deeper, love farther, love longer, and more patiently the neighbors around you. Consider how the love of Christ may emanate from you in all interactions, relationships, conversations, jokes, and arguments at all times.
Matthew 5:43-47 says, “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. So that you may be sons of your father who is heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the gentiles do the same?”
Don’t forget to commit to fellowship with other believers. If Covid has thrown you for a loop, take the step and get reconnected. Get back to church. Commit to a church body… deeply.
5. Commit your efforts at your workplace to the Lord.
Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men…”
Commit to make a difference in your workplace this year for the sake of the Kingdom – praying for those you work with and for, loving them, and working with excellence for them.
I leave you with the challenge: this year consider deeply your New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight is a good goal, to the glory of God! Getting in shape this year is a good goal, to the glory of God. Reading books and increasing knowledge is a good goal, to the glory of God.
But consider, if you would, committing this year, 2022, to King Jesus. Consider increasing your love for Jesus, intentionally fighting sin, reading and meditating on the Word, loving others, and committing all of your efforts at your workplace to the Lord of the harvest.
Lord, may our work bring glory and honor and praise to you, the King of kings, as we seek to honor you with diligence. Holy Spirit, guide our steps, our actions, our words. We ask for supernatural power this year to love you more, to kill sin in our lives, and to end 2022 closer to you, Jesus, than we’ve ever been before. We pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen.