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those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1 NIV
As parents of children with special needs, we will often become familiar with the acronyms for so many educational "catch-phrases" or fads. One that I've been looking at lately: SMART Goals. While the term is attributed to a 1980's business writer, it's often also used in education to teach students how to set goals, both short and long term.
Here's how SMART works. When you're setting a goal, you want it to be:
Okay. This looks great when you're talking about a goal like finishing a paper for a class, or losing weight by a certain point in time. But, what about our biggest goal? What about that ultimate goal we know is waiting for us at the end of our life?
Heaven.How do we set the right goals in order to get to Heaven? What do we need to do?
Let's apply the goal of salvation and eternal life in Heaven to the SMART goal format and see how this plays out.
Specific: Who is responsible for this? That would be me. I have to be responsible for my own self, right? That means I am the only one who can be accountable for my own salvation.
What will it take? According to the Bible, no one will see the Father except those who go through Jesus (John 14:6). So, what it takes is KNOWING Jesus, believing in Jesus and following Jesus. Okay! This is going well! We know some specifics about our goal!
Measurable: Hmmm...how do we measure our salvation? How will we know we are definitely saved? Will it be how many times we've read the Bible? Will it be how many people we have brought to church with us? How about the number of times we've taken communion? The number of times we've broken a commandment? Gossiped? Lied? How can we measure whether or not we will be one of the people who will knock and be told, "Get away from me, I never knew you?" (Matthew 7:23). I guess we'll need to come back to this one.
Attainable: Is salvation attainable? Supposedly, yes! If not, then, Heaven is surely an empty place with lots of echoes and no issues with traffic on the turnpike! But, HOW do we achieve it? How do we actually know that we've done all we need to do to get there? Maybe this is another part of SMART that appears to be difficult to put into words and tangibles right now. I'll need to come back to this one as well.
Relevant: Is this goal worthwhile? Will it meet a need that we have? YES, clearly this is the ultimate need and our most important goal, right? I don't want to end up anywhere else! I don't want to spend eternity in Hell, separated from God! Call me a wimp, but being thrown into a furnace with weeping and the gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:50) does not sound like a good alternative to me. A goal for salvation is definitely relevant.
Timely: According to the SMART system of setting and achieving goals, one needs to set a time limit. This is often set with a specific date, time, etc. According to Job 14:5, GOD has determined the length of our life, and we are incapable of changing that. And, Acts 1:7 reminds us that we are not to know "the seasons" that God has fixed. In James 4:14 we are told that we are just a mist here on earth and we could be gone tomorrow. WE HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING how much time we have left to complete this goal. Hmmmmm...another way that we fail at being able to SMART-goal our way to salvation...So, what are we to do? We could die tonight and not know until it's TOO LATE if we are going to make it to Heaven!
There's no way for us measure our achievement of salvation? There's no way for us to ensure it's an attainable goal? There's no way for us to know what the deadline is for meeting our goal?
Yikes!Thankfully, the Bible assures us that JESUS has already helped us achieve our goal. JESUS took away our "legal indebtedness and nailed it to the cross" according to Paul's epistle to the Colossians (2:13-14). And, as our leading verse said at the beginning of this post, there is NO condemnation for those who have a relationship with Jesus.
So, how do we KNOW that we've achieved this goal, which seems to be immeasurable and uncertain?