“I said, ‘I will watch my ways’”.
Ps 39:1 NIV
An advert for a slimming food warned, “Watch your figure! Everyone else does”. Some people are meticulously careful about their whole appearance. Others don’t care – and often you can see that by the image they portray. It is a very different thing to watch your ways. Many claim that they have a right to “be themselves” and do whatever is natural, easy, or pleasant for themselves, never caring what anyone else thinks. Much nearer to truth and faith was the person who observed that “the unexamined life is not worth living”.
The poet who wrote Psalm 39 was undergoing self-examination. In doing so he wrestled with two deep issues: God and humanity, and God and sin. He had come to know himself so well that he knew he had to tread carefully. He was prone to wander from God’s ways. Reflecting on previous mistakes, and no doubt follies, he knew that he had to watch his ways before God lest he fall and even repeat previous errors.
A new year is an excellent time to consider your ways. In the past you may have been foolish, careless, selfish, or indulgent. Things you said or did may have caused hurt to other people. You may even have initiated evil, trouble or mischief. You will almost certainly also have done much good, helped people, encouraged them or supported them. Ask Christ’s forgiveness for your ways that have been regrettable. If they have affected other people, seek their forgiveness too. Let God affirm you in whatever ways have been in line with his kingdom and ask him to help you to develop those ways – and even to expand them. And be watchful as you go forward.
Lord, help me always to watch my ways.