New Year resolutions are a staple at the turn of the calendar, but for 2020, we'd like to encourage something that may be more valuable: before setting resolutions, we ask ourselves questions that help us examine who we really are and what we should improve on. Here are seven introspective questions for us Christians to reflect on, as our modern world progresses into year 2020.
1. Am I being kind?
We see so much unkindness and insensitivity in the world today, whether in the form of animosity among neighbors or offensive comments on social media. 2020 will be another challenging year, especially with the politically-charged events unfolding.
It is essential as Christians that we think twice before we say or do anything unkind. This applies everywhere, whether towards our own kids, family, neighbors, colleagues, random people we encounter, and people we communicate with online. When we find ourselves losing patience or having the urge to hurt them, we must pause. The common tip is to breathe slowly and count to 10 to help calm our nerves. We can also take it one step further by recalling this Bible verse from Ephesians:4:32: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
2. Is this my ego talking?
Another pitfall that's everywhere these days is the temptation to let our pride and ego get the better of us. Social media, for example, invites us to advertise ourselves, our achievements, and our possessions. It subtly pushes us to compare ourselves with others, and then become bitter when we see that someone has gained more than we have. And these attitudes bleed over to real life, too.
The New Year is a good opportunity to check our ego. We must question the contents of our heart when we feel the urge to display or boast. One particular habit to watch out for: showing off to others with the excuse of claiming that we are #blessed.
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3. Is my lifestyle as hurtless as I can make it?
Modern lifestyles are fast-paced, self-oriented, and driven by a consumerist attitude. When we're swept up in this kind of living, it's easy for us to overlook the many ways we could be damaging things -- and people -- around us. For instance, a routine that relies on single-use plastic packaging can result in so much plastic waste that harms the environment. Purchasing from unscrupulous companies can encourage their unjust labor practices. Even mindless habits like buying too much food or driving for nearby errands can have detrimental socio-economic ripples.
As God's appointed stewards of the earth, it's time for us to be aware of how our lifestyle affects others. And whenever we have a chance to live more gently and harmlessly, we must do so.
4. How can I actively help?
One of the better developments in modern society is that people are now able to open their eyes to the many forms of suffering around the world. Whether it's a flooding on the other side of the globe, a serious epidemic in another country, or the rise of homelessness in our own neighborhoods, we can educate ourselves and sympathize, thanks to our immense access to information.
But beyond just knowing and expressing sympathies, we must also ask how we can concretely contribute to causes that help those who suffer. It's not that we are tasked to save the world. We are simply called to help those we can. As the poet Emily Dickinson beautifully put it, "If I can ease one life the aching... I shall not live in vain." We can start by looking into charities, non-profits, and local organizations that actively sustain worthy causes. We can then choose a few of them to support or join this year.
5. Am I spending enough time with family?
This is a question that Christians should perpetually ask, but more so in a time when everything is moving fast and everyone is busy. Further, so much of family face-time has been replaced by technological substitutes such as texts and calls. It is then vital to ask, "Am I spending enough time in person with my parents, significant other, children, and/or grandparents?" If we hadn't sat down with them lately, it may be time to arrange a nice family meal together.
6. Am I dedicating time for prayer?
What's a Christian without prayer? Sadly, many of us have become so focused on our worldly endeavors that our prayer time is relegated to "when I find the chance." Praying should be a set, non-negotiable part of a Christian's day. We don't 'find' time for it -- we make time, because without regular prayer, we gradually disconnect ourselves from our faith. We found some tips here to cultivate a better prayer life in 2020.
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7. Am I holding inner chaos?
Our hectic lifestyles, combined with a turbulent society, can change our inner temperament. Where we once held a sacred, spiritual peace, we may now be fostering empty chaos and negativity. This manifests in unpleasant ways such as disorganized thinking, short temper, impatience, anger, detrimental impulses, bitterness, and stress. Ultimately, it affects our relationship with God and with people around us.
As we welcome the New Year, we want to restart on a clean, pure slate. We can take some time to sit in quiet solitude and consider our spiritual health lately. Have we been holding on to chaos? What things should we avoid in order to clear our spirit? What habits should we change?
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We hope these suggested questions for Christian living help guide you on your year-end or New Year's reflection. We also have other New Year resolutions fit for the modern Christian -- read them here.
What are your thoughts and ideals for 2020? Share with us in the comments!