Farewell to 2020
I always find the end of the year to be a reflective, contemplative time. The peak of the Christmas excitement is over and the peak of the anticipation of the new year has not yet materialized. So there in the silent valley of our thoughts we ponder life for a week at the end of each year. For me, after I make it through some existential reckoning, I begin to look back at the closing year and then turn my thoughts toward the promise of the year to come. It is during this time that I consider my achievements, my progress, my failures, and my priorities.
Despite it being so much different than other years in so many ways, 2020 ended similarly to its predecessors. I looked back on what I had accomplished, the steps I had made toward realizing my goals, and those plans I had which were never realized. And then came the real questions. Did any of it matter? Or was it all, as Solomon suggested in Ecclesiastes 1:14 (NKJV), “vanity and grasping for the wind?” What is really important in life?
Ecclesiastes exists to answer this question. It is the book of mature wisdom, the sequel in many ways to the youthful wisdom of Proverbs. And in the book’s final two verses, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 tells us what matters in life:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.
We must fear God and keep His commandments. For Christians, since Jesus fulfilled the Law for us, we have a different set of commandments to keep. We are to love God and love others, but we are also to be about our Father’s business.
This means we should be fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission to His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Jesus also spoke about our role in bringing people into His kingdom in John 4:34-38: Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest?’ Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
The meaning of life is to do God’s will, to go and make disciples, and to finish the work which Jesus began. Our lives and words proclaim the Person of Truth and His power working within us. Evangelism and discipleship is everyone’s business. The Church does a good job of introducing people to Jesus, but we need to better support people in developing a relationship with Him.
We should be advancing the Kingdom of God and fulfilling the Great Commission. Are you doing that? As you think about that, I encourage you to consider these questions.
Are you effective in helping advance the Kingdom of God?
Are you fulfilling the Great Commission?
Have you helped make disciples?
Have you encouraged the faithful?
Have you expanded the Holy Spirit’s reach within the Kingdom?
What fruit have you gathered for Jesus?