“Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” (Exodus 23:30).
Little by little.
That’s how most of us grow spiritually. Now that a new year has dawned, most of us are making lists (mental or written) of things we’d like to accomplish in 2012. Surveys show that the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. Most of us want to lose weight, some of us will do it, and most of those who do won’t keep it off very long.
Does that mean we shouldn’t try?
Not at all. There is always a place for resolving by God’s grace to make progress in life. We ought to have some goals in order to help us stay focused.
I ran across an article that suggested we would all do better if we resolved to be “a little nicer.” Now it’s easy to make fun of that notion, but the concept strikes me as entirely biblical. When the Jews were making their way to the Promised Land, God told them that he would drive out the pagan nations before them, but he would not do it quickly. They would have to fight for every inch of land because God said that he would drive out the bad guys “little by little.”
He promised slow success, not quick victory. He did it lest the wild animals should fill up the land once occupied by their enemies. Better that they should fight many battles and win the land bit by bit, filling it up slowly with their own people.
I think we can take this as wise counsel for the new year. Let us by all means set out to make spiritual advances this year. But perhaps it should “a little more” here and “a little less” there.
A little more kindness.
A little less criticism.
A little more forgiveness.
A little less resentment.
A little more contentment.
A little less complaining.
A little more like Jesus.
A little less of me.
Wars are won by many battles large and small, fought in many places. No doubt when 2012 has run its course, we will not have conquered all the land in front of us. This is as it should be, lest we should grow complacent in our spiritual journey.
So let us set out together on this January 1 to have a great year together for the Lord. May it be “a little more” and “a little less” so that 365 days from now, we will be amazed at how far we have come.