Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus

HAPPY new year

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Saturday night, my Facebook feed was filled with people who were glad that 2016 was finally over and 2017 would be a fresh new start.

I understand why people would lament some of the events that occurred in the year that was. Terror attacks, violence against and from police, celebrity deaths, and a contentious election have all played across social media.

But really, whose fault is it that the perception of 2016 is so bad?

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.—Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)

This verse implies that we have an illness, a heart that lacks joy, which requires medicine or some type of cure. A heart that lacks joy is one that wallows in negativity, anger, deception and hatred. It leads to a crushed, broken, withered, dried-up spirit, lacking in any strength.

If there’s anything that’s not lacking in the world, it’s negativity, anger, deception, and hatred. What’s worse, our sin nature encourages us to wallow in it, like a pig in the mire. It feeds our fallen and sinful selves, and the more we’ve dwelled on and surrounded ourselves with outrage over the sound bite of the day, the more it demands to be satisfied with more negativity.

Maybe I’m naive, but I found 2016 to be a huge year of blessing. God taught me so much in both the highs and lows, and I’ve watched my family grow spiritually, especially my kids. But then, again, maybe that’s just me. I understand logically why people might want to be done with 2016, but I don’t sympathize.

The world is full of hate and lies, and look what it achieved in 2016. As followers of Christ, we should be beacons of God’s grace and truth to the world. I guess if there is any lesson that should be learned to carry over into the new year, it’s that people need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ now more than ever. All of us should strive to make 2017 joyous.


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