We often speak of “getting off on the right foot.” This is a way of expressing the desire to begin some new endeavor in the best possible manner. Whether it is the first day of a new school year, the first day on a new job, the decision to marry the love of one’s life, or some other serious commitment, we recognize that it is important to begin well. This is why we make preparations for these commitments. We want to make the best start possible so we will have the best opportunity for success in them.
While it is not impossible to reach a successful conclusion after a poor beginning, it is typically very difficult to overcome a stumbling start. We see this all the time in sporting events. A horse that stumbles coming out of the starting gate is not likely to win the race, no matter how fast or strong he may be. A football team that falls behind by a large margin in the first quarter is not likely to win the game, no matter how well they may play the final three quarters. Sometimes a bad start can be overcome, but not very often.
The principle of getting off to a good start applies in all areas of life, but is especially important in terms of our spiritual walk. The scriptures encourage us to begin our walk with the Lord early in life, because of the danger of straying so far away that we are unable to come to obedience later in life. This was the counsel of the wise man in Eccl. 12:1, where he said, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them.'” It is not impossible to overcome a lifetime spent away from the Lord, but it is not often that such a person turns to God.
Becoming a disciple of Christ early in life is one way in which we “get off on the right foot” in spiritual matters. Whenever one obeys the gospel, however, it is just the first step in a journey that will last to the end of that person’s life. When we understand discipleship in this manner, we see that every day we must “get off on the right foot.” This is because each day takes us either closer to the goal of heaven, or farther away from it. For this reason, we must “get off on the right foot” every day, and the beginning of a new year is a good time to begin this habit.
To “get off on the right foot” each day this year, there are at least three tangible actions that we may take in order to do so. First, we must commit ourselves to the daily study of God’s word. In Psa. 119:105 the psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” If we want to stay on the path that leads to eternal life, we must continue in God’s word. In Jn. 8:31, 32 Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”
Second, we must commit ourselves to regular times of prayer with our Father in heaven. In Phil. 4:6 Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” If we seek God in prayer every day, we will do much better each day.
Third, we must commit ourselves to faithfully assemble with the saints to worship God each Lord’s Day. Regular participation in worship helps us to keep our focus on the path ahead and the goal of eternal life. It draws us closer to God, and consequently helps us to keep from straying from the Lord. David said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.'” (Psa. 122:1). This should be our attitude as well.
As we begin this new year, let’s all get off on the right foot by putting spiritual things first in our daily lives. If we do so, this will be our best year ever, and we’ll be well on the way to a great conclusion in heaven!