Every year at this time many people begin the year with New Year’s Resolutions, firm decisions about something they are going to do, or not do. Resolutions range from healthy living decisions, to relational decisions, financial decisions, etc.

Most resolutions can be summed up in five words: “I want to be happy.” Some will even qualify that by saying, ‘After all, God wants me happy, right?” Here’s the spoiler alert. God doesn’t want you happy! That may sound cruel. How can a God of love not want you happy? The simple reason is that he wants better for you. Happiness is based on circumstances. A healthy bonus makes you happy, a lay off notice does not. An engagement ring makes you happy, a divorce summons does not. A healthy doctors report makes you happy, a bad report does not. Happiness is conditional to your circumstance!

God doesn’t want you happy, he wants you blessed with the joy and peace only he can give. Joy isn’t CONDITIONAL, joy is POSITIONAL. A friend of mine went through a divorce recently. When asked how he was, his response was always, “I’m blessed” He said that to me on good days, on the day his son passed away due to cancer, and the day he told me his wife left him. Blessed? Yes. Blessed. Certainly not because of his circumstance but because of his faith in Jesus.

Jesus tells the story of a man who demanded his brother give him is share of the inheritance. You can read about it in Luke 12:13-21. This story is often used to teach about greed and money but another look at it reveals something more important. There are three questions that need to be answered in regards to joy v happiness.

Rather than resolutions, this year set some goals. Goals are more action oriented and these questions may help with that.

What’s most important to you?

‘Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” ‘ Luke 12:13

Imagine the situation. Jesus is teaching about trusting God not material possessions when suddenly a man shouts out his desire for Jesus to intervene in a family squabble. There are many lessons from this, but in short, the man was more concerned about fairness, his own rights, and money. As you enter 2023, ask yourself two questions. 1) What is the most important possession (material or immaterial) I own? 2) Can I give that up? Is Jesus more important than this?

What do I hope to accomplish?

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ ‘ Luke 12:18-19

Jesus tells a story to illustrate his point. A man had a bumper crop. He was blessed. He had been blessed with so much that he had no place to store it. So he decided to build more storage, sit back, and live an easy life. There is nothing wrong with investment. Nothing wrong with a healthy retirement account. But that’s not what we are talking about here. This man took all the credit for his blessing rather than acknowledging God in the process. We aren’t in control of what we’ve been given, but we are responsible for how we use what we have. Investing in the future is wise, but investing in the lives of others is divine.

Are your goals for 2023 others-oriented or self-oriented?

What legacy do you want to leave behind?

‘ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ ‘ Luke 12:20

The last question to ask in 2023 is, ‘What legacy do I want to leave behind?’ The other day I was doing some writing at a local coffee shop. An acquaintance I hadn’t seen in years greeted my by calling me my father’s name. Dad died in 2012! I doubt this person even caught herself. I was honored to think that my dad’s legacy was so strong. Someone once said, “Live life according to what you want people to say about you at your funeral.”

You may say you aren’t important enough to live a legacy but each of us is building a legacy now, every day of our lives. The good news is that through Jesus, legacy building can start now.

Happy New Year! May 2023 draw you closer to Jesus, reveal what’s truly important, and be the beginning of a Godly legacy!