About fifteen years ago, my vision began to change. After having perfect “20/20” vision (or better) all my life, I discovered ‘my arms started getting shorter’ – I had to hold books a little further away for the print to come into focus. After a couple of years, I would put a book on the floor to read it. In time, I discovered reading glasses, and ever since, I’ve depended on them.
While our physical vision changes, our spiritual ‘vision’ is different: It requires no glasses, but becomes better or poorer depending on our submission to God and His Word. Spiritual vision can easily get confused with our personal goals or desires, but while the world around us changes, God’s ‘blueprint’ for our lives does not, and
we can always have ‘20/20 vision’ by focusing on God’s unchanging Word.
So what kinds of things should be our ‘vision’ for 2020? Let me suggest four:
- Pray more. Scripture is saturated with examples of prayer changing things, and exhortations for us to pray. The simplest statement comes from 1 Thessalonians 5.17: Pray without ceasing. Philippians 4.6 is more pointed: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. James 4.2b bluntly states, You do not have because you do not ask. Why don’t we pray more? To confess the truth, we don’t think we need to. The hymnwriter has put it well:
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
- Give more. Recently I heard an investment adviser ask his audience, What’s the purpose of money? His answer: To spend it! What a crock! We’re up to our necks in debt because we think more ‘things’ will make us happy, but real joy comes from giving. God is our example: He choreographed history to give His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Hebrews 12.2 tells us that Jesus, for the joy set before Him endured the cross – He gave His life! And Jesus said, It is more blessed (the Greek word here means ‘fortunate’ or ‘happy’) to give than to receive (Acts 20.35). 2 Corinthians 9.7 says that God loves a cheerful giver; the Greek word translated ‘cheerful’ is hilarós, from which we get our English word ‘hilarious’! Will you be a ‘hilarious giver’ in 2020?
- Think about God more. We can all agree that our world needs help – there’s trouble on every side. But does that mean we should focus on it? Christians are criticized for being ‘so heavenly-minded they’re no earthly good.’ I think we’re not heavenly-minded enough! Colossians 3.2 exhorts us, Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Why? Verse 3 adds, For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. It’s easy to fill our lives with endless activities; as one philosopher put it, ‘How sad that so many spend their lives making a living, and never live.’ Jesus came that we might really live (see John 10.10); spend some time each day alone with God, the giver of real life, and you will.
- Smile more. Whoa…that’s hard! What’s there to smile about?! Only everything! – if you know the Lord. Someone has said that no one has a right to smile in this life, unless they know where they will spend the next. Do you know that? Then show it! Philippians 4.4 says, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 1 Thessalonians 5.16, one of the shortest verses in the Bible, echoes this: Rejoice always. If we Christians show the joy of the Lord, other people will wonder what we’ve got that they don’t…and we’ll be able to lead them to Christ. Now that’s something that will really make you smile!