For many of us, a new year denotes a new start, a new set of resolutions, some new goals.
A cup of coffee and cookie after grading papers. Watching an episode of Blue Bloods after a full day. Taking a walk after a morning of writing. These make up some of the small rewards I give myself upon completing my goals. Goals—and the rewards that follow— help me discipline myself. Without the small, temporary objectives, I probably would accomplish little, and what I did accomplish would be far less satisfying without some semblance of celebration upon their completion.
But other kinds of goals indicate the source of my real treasure. I call them soul goals. Soul goals reveal whether I’m striving for earth or heaven, whether I’m after man’s applause or God’s. Jesus says if we do our works so men will see how righteous (or compassionate or talented or smart) we are, then we’ve won our reward. However, in so doing, we forfeit any reward from our Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:1). We evidently have an option.
We mine for what we prize most.
If the treasure we seek lies buried in the accolades of others we’ll find some way to let them know how much we give to the needy, how regularly we pray, how often we fast. But no matter how gratifying the praise of people feels at the moment, it evaporates quickly and never truly satisfies.
Paul knew this. He wasn’t about to settle for some puny, temporary goal that yielded a puny, temporary reward. He set his eyes on the highest prize—a prize so invaluable not one thing on earth could come close. Not. One. Thing. Nothing compared to the soul goal of knowing Jesus.
Soul goals do that. Not only do they touch earth, they reach heaven. They teach us how our “momentary struggles” are just that, momentary, and of how our fleeting pleasures hint of sweeter joys around the bend.
So as you consider new goals this year, make sure to remember your soul goals. Never substitute temporary rewards for the eternal one. Always press on toward the highest treasure… the treasure that brings God pleasure.