Thursday, March 15, 2012

Our Lives as a Reflection of Our Priorities

One thing I learned at the flower show after selling countless expensive plants is that people will find the time and resources for the things that truly matter to them.  With the rise in gas and food prices, the still-tanked housing market, high unemployment, and a sluggish economy, one would not think that people have enough disposable income to buy an expensive plant ($30.00-$100.00) that will bloom for a few weeks once a year.  Fortunately, for my family's business, people do.  On the other hand, after the show, many others tried to steal plants from our exhibit and some actually got away.  To think that there are people where that plant is so important that they are willing to risk a criminal record to get it truly amazes me.  While I can not condone their actions and stealing is sinful, criminal, and just plain wrong, I do have a fascination that they have a such a strong desire to have that particular plant that the risk of prison is worth it.  Then, of course, I wondered what the church would be like if we had that same kind of devotion to God. 
So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.  Luke 5:11 NKJV
Six simple words that mean so much "they forsook all and followed Him."  What have we given up for God?  What do we put in our lives ahead of God?  Of course we all say that God is the most important thing in our lives, but do our lives reflect that as reality or as fantasy?  Let's look at a few examples. 

First of all, let us look at our money.  What do we do with what the Lord as provided us?  Are we like the fool who stored up treasures for himself on earth only to have his soul due before God?  Are we greedy in that we want pleasures for ourselves rather than sustenance for a brother in need?  Are we giving money back to God for His use?  Are you more concerned with the pile of junk you accumulate on earth or in laying for yourself treasures in Heaven?   The answer to these questions reveal just how much of our treasures we are willing to give up to God.  I am not saying that we should all live in poverty.  God has given us a life in a country like America and we should enjoy the blessings that come with that.  Just understand that it is only the grace of God that landed you here and it is only the grace of God that sustains this nation.  The real question you need to ask yourself is whether you are controlling your wallet or is God?  Jesus told us that where our treasure is that is where our heart is. If your treasure is fleshly things of this fallen world, than that is where you heart is.  If you give your treasure to God laying treasures up for yourself in Heaven, then that is where your heart is.

All of that, though, is just stuff.  What about deeper things such as careers. When they forsook all, they meant also their careers.  They left their tax collection booths, fishing boats, and more in order to follow Jesus.  I am not saying that we should all leave our jobs.  For most of us, God has a calling for us right where we are.  Where the rubber usually meets the road for us is whether our career is more important than our faith in the choices we face where we either compromise our faith for a promotion or hold our faith and face staying where we are or even a demotion?  If you were in a job that expected dishonesty, will you continue to be dishonest?  If your job involved fitting in by using bad language and telling inappropriate stories, will that continue to be your practice?  You may lose friends or even favor with the boss, but are you willing to pay that price for the Lord? What if the Lord asked you to take a different job making less money?  What if God told you to leave your career entirely and serve the Lord as a career?  I think in all our lives, we have a point where we must choose whether the Lord or are career is more important to us. 

A career is valuable, but it is not most valuable thing in our lives.  The most valuable thing is the one thing we can never get more of nor do we ever know how much we have left.  That thing is time.  The real crux of what is important in your life is what you spend your time doing and whether or not you take time for God.  I know many people who say they have no time to pray, but why does even need to be an issue?  You can pray while you walk, while you drive, while you do anything really.  Some people say they do not have time to read the Bible, however they make plenty of time for shopping, video games, sports, and a whole collection of other trivial things.  Think about it, if you find time to play a game but make no time for studying the Word, then really what is more important in your life?  The fact is that people will make time for what is important to them.  Sometimes people will go through heroic efforts to find time for something really fun, but make no effort to make time for God.  If you are not making time for God, then it is hard to make the argument that He is important to you.  Everything you do instead of making time for God has become your little collection of idols, all taking a higher priority in your life than God. 

The way we live our lives is a testimony to just how important God is to us.  I am not saying that we should go off and live as monks.  God may not want us to be of this world, but He does want us in the world.  I know there are things we have to do.  We have to own (or rent) a home, we need vehicles for transportation, we have to pay our bills and purchase food and clothing.  After that, though, we have what is called disposable income.  It is what we do with that that reveals whether our treasures are in earth or in Heaven.  We also need a job.  We need income to pay those bills and purchase those necessities, but we must ask if our job glorifies God and if we glorify God in our jobs.  Furthermore, we must make choices at times as to whether our career or our God takes a higher priority in our lives.  As for time, there are things we must do.  We must go to work, we must do things at home, we must take care of our families, but beyond that we have what is called "free time."  If someone says they have no free time, but if they find some for playing a softball game or to go to some event, then they are liars.  If spending time with God was truly important, they would find the time for that as well.  It is what we choose to do with our free time that shows how important spending time with God is to us.  And, please, give God more than the leftovers at the end of the night before you go to bed.  God deserves the first fruits not what's left after we do everything else.  I am not saying we should not pray before going to sleep, but that should not be all that we give to God.  In the end, it is about priorities.  Every time you spend money on something that either does not glorify God or is not in obedience to God, you are saying that whatever those things are they are more important to God.  Every time you choose to compromise your faith for the sake of your career, you are showing that your career is more important than God.  Every time you choose to do anything other than spend time with God or if you only give God what's left at the end of the day, you are saying that all those things are more important than God.  One thing I can say (only because God has said it Himself) is that our God is a jealous God and He will may very well crush those idols that we perpetually make more important than Him.  On the other hand, if we seek God first, everything else will fall into place. 
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Matthew 6:33 NKJV

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