The last days of December are a great time for personal inventory.
It’s almost involuntary for many of us. The close of one year naturally leads to us to think back over the highs and lows of the last 365 days (especially if we’re on Facebook). For others of us, the inventory might be more methodical. Maybe we crack open a journal from a year ago or browse through notes we’ve made or organize a list of our biggest decisions in descending order. Either way, it’s safe to say that we all do some kind of inventory.
And for the Christian, this inventory is mainly concerned with our spiritual progress. Exercise goals and staying on budget are important, and there is certainly something spiritual about them, but the main question for us is whether we grew in grace (2 Peter 3:18). Did we make real steps toward increased Christlikeness?
Are we more sanctified now than a year ago?
Asking It Honestly
I think we should ask this question, even though we run the risk of making two mistakes. One mistake is to instantly theologize the answer before we really think about it. Because we know that God is at work in us, we’re temped to dismiss the question altogether. Of course, we think, we’re more sanctified (Philippians 1:6; 2:13). We consider ourselves to be on an irreversible road of progression, and therefore, we allow this to mute any serious examination. The other mistake is to answer the question in terms of our daily disciplines. We immediately mistranslate the question of our spiritual progress to mean whether we read the Bible and prayed enough.
To be sure, Christians are on an irreversible road of progression, and Bible reading and prayer are indispensable, but neither of these should silence our honest asking – and honest answer – to whether we are more like Jesus a year later. And a big reason I suggest we go there is because sometimes we will feel like the answer is no.