10 Things to Abandon this year

by Brian Price

 

Abandon: Materialism

At some point we all think about what we have. We also tend to think about what we don’t have; the list of “don’t haves” is most likely as long, if not longer, than what we have. This isn’t exactly a bad thing unless our thinking drives us to the point of materialism.

Dictionary.com defines materialism as a "preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values." This definition highlights the struggle we all face with the relationship between physical and spiritual things. We often feel as though we have to choose one or the other. Thankfully, to avoid materialism, we don’t have to.

Abandoning materialism happens when we acknowledge God as the source of all that we have and workto manage what we've been given well. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (NIV) There is nothing wrong with what we have or don’t have. The question is, what are we doing or not doing with what God has blessed us with?

Prayer:


Our Father, the giver of all good and perfect gifts, we ask you to give us wisdom to manage well the things that You have entrusted to us. May we, both give and receive, with a thankful heart. May others experience Your love and grace in their lives because of what you are doing in and through us.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Abandon: Competition

Competition can be healthy and unhealthy. We see it between people, in sports, and business. Unhealthy competition is when the little league parent goes off on the umpire for making a bad call or belittles a child who didn’t make the play to win the game. Healthy competition is when a person or team plays in such a way that motivates the other person or team to give their all to “leave it all on the court.”

The book of Genesis offers an example of unhealthy competition between two brothers named Cain and Abel. Cain saw that God received his brother's offering while rejecting his. Genesis 4:3-5 says, “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast." (NIV) Cain’s competitive anger destroyed his relationship with his brother which ultimately lead to him killing Abel.

How do we abandon unhealthy competition? We embrace healthy competition which comes when we see the true purpose of it. Our goal should be to encourage and push ourselves and others to be better instead of trying to win at all costs. As we can see with Cain and Abel, unhealthy competition often takes us places that we don’t want to go. We should encourage others to know, love, and be like Jesus every chance we get.

Prayer:


Our Father, help us to compete with honor. May the fruits of Your Spirit be evident in our lives as we seek to honor You in all that we do. May competition be something positive that builds up everyone involved.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Abandon: Jealousy

Jealousy takes root in our hearts for at least a couple of reasons. First, it is an extension of our desire to compete with others in an unhealthy way. (If I can’t have it, then they can’t either) Second, jealousy happens when we base our personal value on whether or not we win or lose.

We saw in day 2 that Cain killed Abel because, in Cain’s mind, Abel's sacrifice was better than his. Cain based his personal value on whether or not he could please God "more" than his brother. Unfortunately, Cain focused on being better than his brother instead of giving his personal best to God in faith.

How can we abandon jealousy? First, and most importantly, we base our value on God's love for us instead of whether or not we have the best clothes, vehicle, etc. Second, we can seek the interests of others first above our own. Paul says in Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (NIV) This Christ-like attitude within us kills jealousy at its root.

Prayer:


Our Father, show us our unique value. Help us to genuinely desire to pursue the needs of others. Help us to stay away from the destructive powers of jealousy. May we honor You and others by serving others in Your name.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Abandon: Drama

A former colleague of mine had a poster on her classroom door that read, "Save the drama for your llama." This poster was absolutely necessary because we worked in a middle school! But the truth is drama is not only for middle schoolers; it can be a part of anyone's life at any age.

Drama tears us and others apart. Paul says in Galatians 5:15-16, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (NIV) Just before this in verse 14 Paul reminds them of Jesus’ teaching from the Old Testament that everything is summed up in loving God and loving others. In other words, our responsibility is to love God and others instead of causing drama by talking about each other and engaging in other sins of the flesh.

How do we abandon drama? The first thing is to walk in the Spirit. We are lead by God in the way He has uniquely made us to love Him and others. When we do this, God takes away our desire or "need" to create drama by filling it with meaningful, life-giving tasks.

Prayer:


Our Father, help us to see the meaningful purpose that you have given us. May we not be drawn in by dramatic situations that cover up what is truly going on in our hearts. Let us see who we truly are and find joy in the purpose that You have given us.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Abandon: Gossip

Too often what’s going on in the lives of others is more interesting to us than what’s going on in our own. It’s like driving by a car wreck; you know the point where you slow down, not necessarily for safety, but slow enough to see the wreck? Am I the only one who does that? Unfortunately, not only do we pay too much attention to the wrong things in others, we tend to talk about them as well.

The truth is, the words we use and spread have power. We can tear people down just as quick, if not quicker, than we can build them up. James 3:9 warns about gossip saying, “Ironically this same tongue can be both an instrument of blessing to our Lord and Father and a weapon that hurls curses upon others who are created in God’s own image.”

How do we abandon gossip? Paul, in Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV) When we do this, the quality of our relationships and the joy we experience in life will certainly increase.

Prayer:


Our Father, let our words be positive and encouraging. Give us confidence in You so that we do not feel the need to put others down. May we understand that we can use our words to serve others and build them up that can have an eternal impact on their lives.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Abandon: Negative Thinking

The way we think has a tremendous amount of influence on our lives. Our thoughts can motivate us, make us mad, or even deceive us. We’ve all been there - someone else is talking to us and we’re wondering if they're thinking we’re cute or if we’re good enough to be their friend. All the while, perhaps they’re thinking the same thing or they’re thinking about what's for dinner!

Not only does negative thinking affect our relationships, it can also affect our performance academically and in the workplace. When we criticize ourselves with negative thinking, our bodies lose much needed energy. This wasted energy keeps us from performing at our highest potential, which unfortunately, tends to keep the negative thinking going.

How do we abandon negative thinking? Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV) We need to fill our minds with whatever is true and right that God puts before us each day. Is it easy? No. Is it something we have to work at each day? Yes!

Prayer:


Our Father, help us to think about things that are good, beautiful, and excellent. May we learn to recognize when negative thoughts come our way to filter them out quickly so they don’t zap our energy. May the way You love us motivate us, give us energy, and guide us to live meaningful lives for Your glory.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Abandon: Anger

Not all anger is bad. Good anger, also known as righteous indignation, is a godly response to injustice. (i.e., being angry about sex trafficking, unfair wages/work conditions) The anger discussed here is the enticing, enraging, and out-of-control anger.

This type of anger does not lead to the results we’re looking for. James 1:20 says, “...human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (NIV) Anger that is not of God tears the the world down instead of leading us to a positive result of building it up. In other words, the final goal of anger should always be justice and not revenge.

How do we abandon this worldly anger? Each day we make a choice that God’s way is always better. A young and wise man recently said at his mother’s celebration after losing her to cancer, “[speaking to his Mom] The one thing I can’t be at God is angry because you wouldn’t want me to get in the way of God by being angry." This young man is courageously trusting in and being obedient to God's ways to live in this broken world.

Prayer:


Our Father, please help us to be wise each day to avoid the trap of worldly anger. Help us to remember that we may not always understand each situation that comes our way; getting angry in a way that does not honor You does not help. May we pursue Your peace and allow it to guard our hearts.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Abandon: Violence

Violence is a by-product of other sins in our hearts. (i.e., anger, jealousy, control, pride) It shows up when a person who feels weak and without purpose is deceived into thinking that it will solve the problem. All of the sudden, the person feels strong, in control, and has something to do.

Like drama, violence can happen with anybody at any age; we’re all capable of it. It’s sometimes a tough thing to admit or think about. However, the truth is we must be on guard because we all can become prey to the trap that is violence.

How do we abandon violence? We must guard our hearts. There are too many people who have arrived at this ugly destination and wondered how they ever got there. Here’s what Scripture says in Psalm 34:14, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (NIV)

Prayer:


Our Father, may peace be on our minds and in our hearts. May we see it as a valid response even when it doesn’t make sense. May others see Your ways in us as we live to bring Your complete shalom to the world in Your name.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Abandon: Fear of Man

The fear of man (meaning: fear of people in authority or anyone other than God) can be paralyzing. We may fear that a boss is going to fire us if we don’t live up perfectly to his/her expectations. We may fear that a parent or guardian is going to punish us or not love us anymore if we don’t live up to their expectations. Last, we may fear that our friends aren’t going to like or accept us if we don’t do what they say. There are so many situations that try to bring fear into our hearts and minds.

This fear hinders us from living the way God intended us to live. Unfortunately, these circumstances are not the fault of our own; there are times when the people around us put us in a position of fear. For example, a boss, parent, or friend may have treated you in such a way that caused fear. Regardless of the source, we are meant to be in relationships built on love, trust, and mutual respect, not fear.

How do we abandon this fear of man? We must understand who we are and who God is. We are prized possessions made by a loving God. This loving God is our protector and provider. Psalm 91:1-2 says, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (NIV) Even though people and circumstances may attempt to make us feel fear, it is our responsibility to focus on the God who goes before us and behind us to guide and protect.

Prayer:


Our Father, may our only desire be to please You. Help us to guard against people and circumstances that seek to cause fear in hearts and minds. May we find rest and peace in knowing that You are watching over us and even in death, You are with us.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Abandon: Laziness

You may or may not remember the “get rich quick” commercials promising little work, lots of pay, and early retirement. The underlying messages were that the best life was to have more money than you could ever need, quit working, and be lazy gallivanting around in a beautiful mansion with everything you ever wanted. (i.e., cars, food, trips) This, however, is not how God designed us to function.

As humans, we’re made for work; work gives us meaning. In fact, work begins with God in the first book of the Bible: Genesis. In the creation story (see Genesis 1), God works for six days and rests on the seventh. This is the example we as people, made in the image of God, are suppose to follow. If we don’t, the Bible has some tough words for us. Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “...The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” (NIV)

How do we abandon laziness? We find what it is that we love doing that serves other people. Instead of focusing on what it is that will make us the most money for an "early retirement," we focus on what it is that God has called us to do to give back to the community. If you don’t know what it is that you love to do, then seek out someone who can pray with you and help you find it.

Prayer:


Our Father, please show us the gifts that you have given us to serve. Help us to understand that You have uniquely purposed us to be a blessing to others. It’s not about money. It’s not about fame. It’s about loving You and loving others through service. May we find joy and pleasure in meaningful work.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.