Someone once said, “I can tell you a lot about people’s priorities in life by looking at two things—their checkbook and their calendar.” How we use our two main assets—our time and our money—very much defines our lives.
I remember at a long ago high school sports banquet, the speaker wrote a numbered list of prioritized goals on a chalkboard. Pointing to the top of the list, he said we would be successful in life, if we made such a list and then began working on those priorities starting at the top. If we but accomplish the first five or ten items or only the first in our list, then we would be successful, for we would have done that which was most important.
I suspect many of us fail to do the most important things for lack of never truly deciding the priorities we will pursue in our lives.
The Bible tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God, and these things shall be given to you.” (Mt. 6:33) If we put seeking the kingdom at the top of our priorities, we will have no need to worry for God will provide us the necessities of life. We may not have the fanciest automobile or any car at all. We may not gain the acclaim of men, but we will be held safely in the bosom of our Lord.
Through the years I have come to understand the importance of simplification, whether that be in an engineering design, relationships with others, and certainly in understanding how we should walk in this life. This results from boiling things down to their essence and stripping away the gross as was done in the purification of gold. (Mal. 3:3) Setting priorities is the basis for simplifying life.
In order to serve God we must:
- Clearly know our priority of goals.
- Be refined in our thinking and with hearts filled with spiritual thoughts and understanding, free of any desire for the world so that we might lead an undistracted life of service to God.
- Not be double-minded (James 1:8) but instead focused on our reward in Heaven, setting aside the things that so easily beset us. (Heb 12:1)
I am convinced many Christians wish to serve and please God but lose their way, for the soil of their heart is full of thorns that choke out the word "with cares and riches and pleasures of life." (Lk. 8:14) Those cares and pleasures may not be sinful themselves but may become sin, because they remove our focus from serving God to instead enjoying life.
I believe life can be reduced to a very simple format--we will serve either God or Satan. Satan is an easy Master. He does not require us to openly worship him. He does not require us to perform certain acts of obedience or live in a specific way. He does not even reject us. should we go regularly into the assemblies of Christians as they worship God. He is fine "sharing" you and I with God.
He asks only one thing--that we not commit ourselves wholly to God. He wants us to have a good time in the world, to educate our children well, teaching them all the refinements of this world. It is okay if we are "good" people. We don't have to lie, cheat, steal, or do any wicked things as viewed by the world. We can be a 99% Christian, and Satan is comfortable with that. He knows that anyone who does not fully commit themselves to God is in reality Satan's child.
Our life then consists of one simple choice. Shall we serve God or mammon? To serve God, we must commit to Him with all of our heart, our soul, and our mind.
I would suggest that each of us sit down to a computer screen or a blank piece of paper. Start listing the goals of your life, and once completed, put them in their order of priority. Next determine the immediate steps toward reaching each goal--no need today to try to list everything that might ultimately be required--that would be overwhelming. Simply list the next few steps under each goal. Then each day, or on a periodic basis, check off the steps accomplished and list the next steps toward that goal and refine and revise your goals.
Once we get our goals clearly established and prioritized, and we understand the immediate steps toward those goals, we will understand better how to structure each day. We will understand that we cannot participate in every good and wonderful activity in life. We have limited time on this earth, and there are so many things we need to do in order to please our Maker.
A few suggestions for your To Do List, as I call it:
- Realize that adding attendance at each service is a good start, but is not the entirety of serving God.
- Add time to your schedule for personal and family bible study.
- Add time for prayer and meditation.
- Add time for visiting or caring for others. This may be as simple as a card, a phone call, an email, and, of course, prayers on their behalf.
- Add time for seeking out and teaching those who are lost, or those Christians who are weak and need encouragement.
- Only then add time for good and wholesome activities in the world. I suspect most of us will find a need to reduce existing commitments in order to address weightier matters.
God made man such that he requires some recreation, and these activities are appropriate when done moderately and with the proper priority. They sometimes afford opportunities to interact with the lost and to let our light shine before other people. But as Robert Turner once said, "Jesus is okay if you go fishing. In fact, He will go with you. Just remember, though, you are fishing on his time."
- Jimmy Griffith