Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness … take hold of the life that really is life (I Timothy 6:12-19).
This verse offers a great way to begin the New Year. How different our world would be if only a few of us who seek to follow Jesus could actually accomplish even a portion of this hopeful imperative. But we have a problem.
Living with righteousness, love, gentleness and the other biblical qualities listed above can be a real struggle in the world of today. Whether we like it our not, our free market economy inevitably creates winners and losers. Competition, the very premise of our capitalism, recognizes some will compete more readily, heartily and vociferously than others. Therefore, losers will be “naturally selected” and will be forced to drop out of competition. Small businesses and entrepreneurs contend with this daily.
Most understand this process of competition to be the very engine that fires new innovation and continues the need for a competitive edge in a global economy. And many agree (to varying degrees) that since Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776), the western world, and now increasingly international markets, benefit from this same process of eliminating the weak at the behest of the strong.
For the Christian, however, this economic reality creates problems. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to pause from our frantic pace of buying and our desperate need to compete – and remember. We are called to love, to be compassionate, to look out for one another, to lift up the downtrodden, to bring in the outcast, to bind up the wounds of the afflicted, to welcome the stranger, and to maintain proper perspective on “life that is truly life” (I Timothy 6:19).
So while our culture competes to stay ahead, or to rushes to keep up with the Joneses so as not to get passed over, Christians must remain reflective of Jesus, skeptical of culture, un-coerced by marketing, non-anxious in competitive surroundings, at peace with who we are, content with what we have, thankful for God’s blessings, aware of our shortcomings, passionate about God’s love, and prepared to be instruments of peace.
Or as the Bible says even better and more concisely: for the new and beautiful year that will be 2017, “take hold of the life that really is life.”
Let’s do the best we can to give it a try!
 Full title: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith in 1776.
 Some call this “Social Darwinism” because it usually results in the “survival of the fittest”. Exceptions might be in the auto or banking industry with the controversial concept and term: “too big to fail”.