Happy New Year! Lamentations 3:22 tells us that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.” There’s no mention of these spiritual blessings being extra accessible on January 1.
But when the calendar begins to signal a new year, it has an interesting effect on us. First, we review the choices we made the previous year, assessing which were good and which were bad. Then, we plan for the coming year, often committing ourselves to better spiritual disciplines, healthier habits, and wiser choices.
All of these are beneficial exercises, but there’s one assessment I think we often neglect in our annual review: the counsel we expose ourselves to.
God designed people with the need for counsel. Immediately after creating Adam and Eve, God begins to talk to them. He knows they need truth, which they will never discover on their own, in order to make proper sense of who they are and what they were created to do.
God has never stopped counseling since. He gave us his Word so that we would know him, ourselves, the nature of our world, and how we are meant to live.
As you think about the New Year and what you want to change or improve, remind yourself of this: you are constantly being counseled by someone or something. And the counsel you choose to pursue or allow to influence your mind and heart will always shape your daily living.
Intentionally or inadvertently, you are being counseled in your relationships. Whether that be your parents, sibling, friend, mentor, co-worker, or neighbor, you can’t have a relationship without the give and take of counseling.
If you’re on social media, you’re being counseled by Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or LinkedIn—platforms that have a massive influence on your life. If you’re not on those sites, you’re still being counseled by the books and magazines you read, the news, talk shows, and podcasts you listen to, even the lyrics of the music you enjoy, and the shows and movies that entertain you.
To conclude this first Wednesday’s Word of the New Year, I want to take you to an Old Testament passage of Scripture and ask a morbid but important question: if you were about to die, what would your final words of counsel be to your child (or the person you loved the most and had the most influence over)?
If you had a few final parting words that this person would carry with them for the rest of their life, what counsel would you have for them? What identity would you want to remind them of? What truth and wisdom would you desire to impart? What success would you encourage them to seek? What hope and confidence would you wish to instill?
1 Chronicles 28:9-10 preserves David’s final words of counsel to his son Solomon. There are four life-shaping reminders he wanted his child to carry with him:
1. “Serve God with a whole heart and with a willing mind.” Give your heart to the Lord; it will shape everything you do.
2. “The Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.” Remember that you can never deceive or fool the Lord. He knows your heart better than you ever will.
3. “If you seek him, he will be found by you.” The Lord is gracious, tender-hearted, loving, and kind. He never hides from those who seek him.
4. “Be careful now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it.” Don’t let anything keep you from doing what God has called you to. Fight against internal and external temptations and stay faithful.
So, as you review your 2022 and make plans to improve 2023, don’t forget to evaluate the counsel you are opening your ears, mind, and heart to receive. It has a profound effect on the way you live.
And may God give each of us the grace to follow these four wise words of counsel from David to Solomon. When we do, our lives will be a hymn to the glory of our Savior in 2023.
Paul David Tripp
1. Create a list of the primary sources of your counsel. What do you expose yourself to that has the most potential to significantly influence your worldview?
2. Are there sources of counsel that you need to reduce your exposure to, or eliminate altogether? How can you seek out additional sources of biblical counsel? Be specific and pursue those this week!
3. Review some of the choices, both big and small, you made last year? Which, by the grace of God, were good and Christ-exalting? What motivated you to make those decisions? What were the priorities of your heart in those moments of decision?
4. Now review some choices, both big and small, that you regret making last year? What motivated you to make those decisions? What were the priorities of your heart in those moments of decision?
5. What would you like to change or improve in the New Year? What is your motivation for desiring this change? Is there an area where the Bible calls you to change that needs to be a bigger priority?
6. Identify one thing God has called you to in this season of life. What do you need to be careful about with this task? Why will you need strength to stay faithful? What are some international or external temptations that might interfere with this calling?