Another year has passed. Like a stream, it has flowed into the sea of eternity – a year full of toil and work, full of joy and sorrow, full of misfortune and blessings, a year full of many privileges and opportunities that can no longer be captured again. Today, at this new turn of the year, let us stand still and first take a look at the past.
The serious question should arise in all of us: How have I spent the past years of my life and especially the days of the past year? Did I live as I should have lived? Did I talk and act as I should have? How did I take advantage of the precious time God gave me by grace? How did I apply the opportunities, health, strength, and talents God gave me? Did I waste them on myself, for self-interest, or even in the service of sin and Satan?
Or did I live and work for God, for eternity, and for my fellow people? What efforts did I make to further the cause of our Lord who suffered for us? How many prayers did I send up for the salvation of the lost? How much time and effort did I take to lead the erring, those bound in sins, to the cross of Jesus?
Can we look back on the past with a clear conscience because we have done our duty, or have things accumulated there that stand between us and God – things that accuse us, words we should not have spoken, words that have inflicted wounds and destroyed the reputation of others? Let us examine ourselves!
Ephesians 5:16 encourages us to be “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Yes, now is the time to act! Today belongs to us. We have no guarantee for tomorrow. Today, let us live as we will once wish we had lived. Today, let us live as if this day will be our last. Let us ask ourselves: Am I fulfilling the purpose and mission of my life? Am I an obstacle to the cause of God and to my fellow human beings? Is there danger that I will hinder the truth through my unrighteousness way of living? Am I exerting an influence on others that will draw them to ruin? – Or am I a blessing to my fellow people?
Everything is rushing towards eternity. The future will teach us what preparations we have made, how we have utilized the precious present time. As the seed, so will be the harvest. One day, people will realize the value of time, the meaning of a word, and the great importance of an action. There in eternity, people will realize that every thought, every word spoken, and every deed done has determined our eternal destiny. There in eternity, man’s entire life will pass before his mind’s eye like a panorama. There, in the light of eternity, he will recognize how his life was in reality.
Therefore, the prophet says: “Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12) – the God who will come with all of His angels to hold judgment. All nations will stand before Him, and all hidden things will be revealed. Look into the future and test yourself!
The world is in disarray, say the Scriptures. It is a world full of injustice, full of unrest, full of burden, sin, guilt, crimes, and murders. Immoralities of all kinds, such as adultery, etc., are the order of the day. Like madmen, the masses are in wild pursuit of wealth, honor, and pleasure, the end of which is eternal ruin. It is getting worse the longer time goes on. Truly, this world is ripe for judgment. In the distance, the dull roll of thunder of the approaching judgment can already be heard. Whoever is a citizen of this world will also perish with the world. The admonishing call resounds from the world of eternity: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
As the old year rushes away and the new one makes its entrance, let us once again look back into the past. Let us look at the present and also take a serious look at the future. Let us also take a look into our heart and ask ourselves: Does God and His justice and peace dwell in it? Or is it as empty and barren as the cold world around us? Is it cleansed of all sins by the blood of Jesus, or is there a hidden enemy deep within who wants to make us miserable and destroy us for time and eternity? Yes, let us pray like the Psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).