Have you established or written down your priorities in life? Even if you haven’t written them down, they are established because if you did an analysis of your daily schedule, you can see what is really important in your life. When something is important, we find a way to do it or be involved in it. Things that are constantly overlooked really aren’t all that important, no matter how hard we’d like to object. To be consistent in life, which squelches much of the inner turmoil that people experience, we must express our priorities, then live up to them by living up to the priorities that we have stated are important.
Jesus taught this principle in His sermon on the mount when he brought up the subject of worry and things that become a priority in life like food and clothing. Follow His thinking:
Matthew 6:24–34 (ESV) — 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Let’s focus on verse 33 and Jesus’ call for priority amid life calling for your concern even to the point of worry.
Matthew 6:33 (ESV) — 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
How does that priority look in our lives?
- Priority in our interests. What really tugs at your heart? If we aren’t careful, we’ll be pulled toward selfish interests and forget the bigger picture. No wonder Jesus in His model prayer included the desire for God’s kingdom to be advanced in the world and later on the apostle Paul said that is done with a focus on praying.
Matthew 6:10 (ESV) — 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
1 Timothy 2:1–2 (ESV) — 1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
Is prayer a priority? Is seeking the advancement of the kingdom of God in the world a priority? Does interceding for people who do not have faith in Christ have a part in your prayer life?
- Priority in our integrity. Does your life match what you say? If we aren’t careful, we’ll live like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day who were condemned by Him for “cleaning the outside of the cup but the inside remained filthy.” Integrity is making sure we are consistent in what we do when we think nobody is looking.
Matthew 23:25–26 (ESV) — 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
- Priority in perception. There are many ways to interpret the times in which we are living, most of which are either frightening or careless. The person who holds to the Biblical worldview, however, can live in peace, knowing that all things are under God’s control and He will have the final say in the end. If we allow the world and the media to form our perception, we’ll easily become scoffers of the truth.
2 Peter 3:3–7 (ESV) — 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
- Priority in our testimony. Too many times we allow something other than the Gospel to be on our lips when we are talking to those who do not believe. If the kingdom of God is the priority so is the simplicity in the Gospel.
1 Corinthians 15:1–4 (ESV) — 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
Romans 1:16 (ESV) — 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
- Priority in our offering. The Bible is clear that the most important thing we can give is ourselves as we seek first the kingdom of God because as we focus upon that, our time, our talents, and our treasures follow suit because it becomes a reflection of what is really important, namely offering ourselves to Him after all He’s done for us.
2 Corinthians 8:5 (ESV) — 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) — 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Think about your priority in life. Does what you do match what you say is important? Is your priority seeking first the kingdom of God? Then put it to the test. If you are not meeting up to that priority, that could be the reason for deep frustration. The good news of following the Lord Jesus Christ is that when we see a place where we are falling behind in life, we can recognize that by His grace He has pointed it out to us which means He is calling us to repent of our ways (change our direction) for which He offers His help so we can get back in the race of life and finish strong.
It’s a matter of priority.