"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress." [1 Timothy 4:15]
Do you want to progress this year? Do you want come to the end of the year and, looking back on all that has happened, see that you have grown?
I don't know many people who would answer no to these questions.
We want to make progress and grow in life. It's natural and healthy. But how often, when asked the question about how we are progressing in our personal growth, do we struggle to identify specifics.
Why is that?
Set and forget
I think, in large part, it is because at natural seasons of our lives, like the start of a new year, we have time and space to reflect and plan for new goals and directions. But then life rushes into a pace that crowds out our ability to consistently reflect on our set plans, and then 6 months comes around and we've had fits and starts of progress, if at all.
Enter accountability. Essential to the parable Jesus tells in Luke 19:11-26 is the notion of accountability. The Master asks each servant what they'd done with what they'd been given.
Imagine being a servant in this parable. Surely in the Masters initial instructions was it noted that he would return to find out what they'd gained with what they'd been given by him. Would that not have been incredibly motivating? Inspiring action and in a very clear direction - to put in your best efforts towards increasing what the Master gave you initially.
Is this not what you and I need to progress this year? The knowledge that the Master will ultimately ask us - what have you done with what I've given you in this lifetime?
Will Jesus ask us?
It is an appropriate question to ask, and the Apostle Paul is clear:
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive what is due them for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."
It's hard to do this statement justice without reading the context (which I encourage you to do), but in essence Paul in this whole section of his letter to the Corinthian church is saying - what we do with the salvation grace we've got in Jesus Christ matters to Him.
In other words - Jesus won't ask us to give an account of what makes us worthy of His salvation (we receive this by pure grace-gift - Ephesians 2:1-10), but He will ask us, "how have you pursued the good works I planned for us to accomplish in my grace (Ephesians 2:10)?"
Accountability. Jesus holds you & I accountable for our lives. And this is meant to inspire action in a very clear direction, as the first two servants demonstrated in the parable in Luke 19:11-26.
Have you got a proxy?
You and I need to keep short accounts with Jesus. Keeping regularly in prayer with God about your progress this year will be key.
But we also need each others' help. Hebrews reminds us that the power of gathering together is to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds..." (Hebrews 10:24). In one sense, we need to be proxies for Jesus with each other.
What I mean is - we need to help each other, for Jesus' sake and in love, be true to the plans for growth and progress in the good works of God we set out to make happen this year. How do we do this?
Who is someone you can meet with regularly who won't cover you in cotton wool but who will call you up into the good works of God for your life?
If you don't have someone, but you've made plans to progress and grow this year, get someone. Pronto. He or she will be the key to your progress in 2020.
If you don't have someone - ask us here at church how you can get in on a coaching huddle. The whole purpose of our coaching huddles is to help each other by calling each other up into the good works of God for our lives.
Our coaching huddles are set to start back up next week, so you can find out now what you need to!
Let's get serious...
...about our progress. Jesus is - He always has been, always will be.
And let's help each other get serious, by being loving and strong proxies for Jesus - helping each other to progress strong in the good works that God has prepared in advance for us to outwork.
I'm Joining together with you this year for a year of progress that is evident to all (1 Timothy 4:15).