I John 2:15-17 tells us this: “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (NKJV).

God’s view of things differs from man’s in pretty much every area.  The world offers temporal satisfactions for our desires.  They are quick fixes and they do not really satisfy our deepest needs.  The world judges us by our accomplishments, our finances and our notoriety.  It is all very empty.

God’s values are eternal.   And our passage in John says that those of us who please God will live forever.  But this presents a question: What pleases God?

Since we are all born with a sinful nature and since we are all our own worst enemies, it is important, I think, that we take a look at ourselves to see if we are truly living lives that please God.

Let’s look at a great story that takes place not long before Jesus’ birth.  In Luke 1, we read the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, an elderly couple who had long prayed for a child.  For many years, their prayers were seemingly unanswered, until one day an angel of the Lord arrived on the scene, promising that they would have a son.  This son would become John the Baptist.

In Luke 1:6 we see that Zechariah and Elizabeth were “both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”  If we are to please God, our hearts will be fixed on Him, putting Him first in all things.

A key point here is that this couple had gone for years without seeing their chief prayer answered (at least seemingly so).  But they did not quit on God or go about complaining how their faith had been worthless.  No, they continued to honor and trust God.

This is not an easy thing to do.  In fact, it’s downright tough when we are being mistreated or we face uncertainly or illness or the loss of a loved one.  So many things can discourage us.  So, I came up with a kind of checklist to help us ensure that we are focused on God and focused on living holy, trusting lives every day.  It goes like this:

  1. Daily praise God (Psalm 118:24).
  2. Daily repent of sins (I John 1:9).
  3. Daily seek reconciliation (Matthew 5).
  4. Daily look for ways to bless others and point them to Christ (Matthew 20).
  5. Daily determine to focus on what matters (Matthew 6:33).

This Christmas season is a great time to take self out of our equation and to ensure that we are placing God first.  The things of the world are passing away, but what we do for God is all that will matter.  I want God to look at me and see a man like Zechariah — a man of committed, mature, unflappable faith.

Let’s ensure that our families, our coworkers and our neighbors are seeing us as people who are righteous in God’s eyes.  That is the right heart for Christmas.