When making resolutions, think beyond yourself

Matthew 25:35-40  “…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (36) I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ (37) Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? (38) And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? (39) And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ (40) And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”

Have you made any resolutions lately? It is the time of year when many people do. During the first week of the year as I watched things on my various screens, I noticed each and every resolution I was being encouraged to make was about self-improvement. I was offered help to: lose weight, get stronger, reduce debt, travel more, and decorate my home. Those are all good things to be sure.

It has occurred to me that none of our common resolutions are about things besides ourselves. We would all agree that our world has many areas and conditions that should be changed. For example, how is it possible that safe drinking water isn’t universally available? I could go on with a lengthy list of problems that need to be solved. However, what interests me is how we, in our annual pledges to do better, are completely focused on us.

The words from Jesus above are part the Sheep and Goats discourse and the entire section is actually frightful. The section I quoted does not include the threatening part because I am not trying to scare and shock us into being more outwardly focused. Rather, I think the section I quoted is an invitation, and a reminder, that the world that God has gifted us with is in need of our resolutions.

Perhaps, I resolve to provide some money so that a child who is underweight will have enough food to come up to a normal weight. Maybe, I resolve to send some of my money to an agency that helps homeless people get into some kind of shelter.

I hope those of us that have made resolutions at the start of 2019 to improve ourselves are able to keep them. In addition, my invitation and prayer are that we also make a resolution or two outside of ourselves.

Leonard Sponaugle is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Johnstown.

By Kerry Minor

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