Someone once wrote, “We cannot run to win the race God has for each of us unless we can envision the finish line. Live with the end in mind.” This is surely one of the many gems of wisdom coming from (Matthew 25:14-30) where Jesus tells the story of parable of the talents. The bottom line is; God literally gives us all talents, resources and opportunities. Each Christ-follower has received special abilities with unique strengths. You may not realize this, but we should be intentional in discovering God’s good gifts to us. Yet, one thing is common to all; the Day is coming when we must answer personally before God what we did with all that He has graciously given to us. In other words, we are personally accountable to Him. This need not be a frightening prospect. It should motivate us rather than cause us to worry. Faithfulness will be greatly rewarded, indifference, apathy or ignorance will not be a pretty picture. We need to reorient our thinking and lives to reflect this truth; begin the new year with the end in mind.
In the upcoming 2018 New Year, we are all going to be given opportunities. The question is: “What are you going to do with the opportunities God gives you?” Here’s what the question is not: “Why didn’t I get as many as that person?” The question, rather, is how you are going to leverage the opportunities the Lord has given you. Whether it is one, two, five, or even more—how are you going to use the gifts God has entrusted to you? Will you begin this new year with the end in mind?
Let me tell you what this may look like for some of you. For some, your family and your household will be growing this next year. Maybe you are having a baby; maybe a child is coming home from college; maybe a parent or relative is moving in. Your family and your household are going to grow. What are you going to do with that opportunity? At the end of their stay with you, what do you hope it looks like? How can you leverage that time you spend with them to point them to God’s words and his ways? Whether it is 18 years, 2 years, or 6 months, what do you want the end to look like? Begin with the end in mind.
Some of you will be starting new romantic relationships this next year. Begin with the end in mind. I am a big advocate of dating with purpose, dating with intentionality. I’m not saying you have to plan your wedding after your first date, but if God is going to put someone in your path, you need to enter into that relationship with an idea of where you want it to go. Taking it one day at a time, or just being in a relationship to be in a relationship, is laziness and being irresponsible. Date with intentionality. Begin with the end in mind.
For many of us, there are probably things in this new year that we either need to start doing or need to stop doing, but begin with the end in mind. Maybe it is finally starting to make and live off a monthly budget. Maybe it is making a will or a trust for your family, because the end is coming whether you like it or not. Some of us need to stop a habit or addiction. Perhaps we need to get serious about losing weight, not so much for vanity, but our health. Our physician has perhaps even mentioned this to us. It’s time to get serious and real change and transformation in our lives, for the glory of God, in 2018.
Make a goal and have a plan. The old saying, “If you aim at nothing you’re sure to hit it” is true. Maybe it is starting a prayer time with your family; you’ve been wanting to do it, and what a great time to start. It could be you’ve keenly sensed the need to have a daily Quiet Time before you head off for work, where you could briefly read some Scripture and pray. Some of us need to stop arguing and fighting with our spouse or exasperating our children. What do you want them to say about you five years down the road? Ten years down the road? Twenty years down the road? Because they will say something. So begin with the end in mind.
Finally, big picture: At some point in time, Jesus will be returning. We just celebrated His first Advent, but that’s not the end of His-story. The Master is coming back, and the Bible teaches us He is coming back to settle accounts. He’s coming back to see what you and I did with all the opportunities that were given to us. Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 22:13). So this year, begin with the end in mind.
Imagine what it would be like, after your time on this earth is over, when you meet Jesus face-to-face. When the two of you go through the slideshow of your life, what do want his response to be? What do you want his reaction to be? Do you want it to be like the reaction I had with Tim, or the reaction the master had with the servant who buried his opportunity in the ground? No—I think you, like me, want a reaction where Jesus will put his arm around us and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master’s happiness!” Our Master wants nothing more than to share His joy not just with His servants, but with His sons and daughters. So this new year, begin with the end in mind. If you desire to be greatly blessed and used of God, I hope you will keep this in mind as 2018 rolls in soon.