Summary: This is my adaptation of a sermon by Phillip Krueger, "A Changed Life Requires New Priorities", S.C. 3/14/04. While it is little changed from his sermon, I wish to share it with my few personalized redactions because this sermon has affected me personally
The scripture passages that we have read this morning challenge us to reconsider our priorities. Is having enough money in order to live securely our chief priority? Or is prayer and a deepening relationship with the Lord our chief priority? What is your priority?
People get easily confused about priorities. A woman was sitting next to an empty seat at the Super Bowl stadium. A man asked the woman about it. The woman explained, “It was my husband’s…but he died.” The man said to her, “I’m surprised that another relative or friend didn’t jump at the chance to take his seat.” She answered, “I don’t understand it either. But, they all decided on going to his funeral instead.” Is football your priority?
A farmer ran this classified ad in the Quay County Sun: “Farmer with 160 irrigated acres wants marriage-minded woman with a tractor. When replying, please send picture of the tractor.” Is the running of your business your chief priority?
A group of friends went deer hunting and paired off in two’s for the day. That night one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under the weight of a 200 pound deer. The other hunters asked, “Where’s Bob?” The lone man said, “Oh, he had a stroke of some kind, he’s a couple of miles back up the trail.” The other hunters were shocked and asked why he left Bob laying there to carry the deer instead. “It was a tough call,” the hunter said, “but I figured no one was going to steal Bob.”
We all have priorities. And whether we think about it or not, we all live according to priorities. A “priority” is something that has first importance in our life. It’s those things that we place higher value on than other things. The Bible is a book of priorities, and it contrasts God’s priorities and man’s. Are we willing to learn from the Bible? Are we willing to give God’s priorities a chance in our lives? Are we willing to allow those priorities to become our own?
It is wise to examine where we are in our life.
Where is our life headed? A pilot came on the intercom of his plane: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have good news and bad. The bad news is that we’re lost. But, the good news is that we’re making excellent time!” I don’t think that is very good news as far as the direction of our life is concerned. Some people don’t stop and ask directions when they’re lost, they just speed up… The Bible, however, encourages us to see if we’re still on the right road. And while we are reading the Bible, it might be well to ask, “is there any difference between God’s plans for our life and our own life-goals? Is the road I am traveling leading me closer to heaven, or elsewhere?
THERE’S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TEMPORARY AND ETERNAL PRIORITIES. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 we read that God… has planted eternity in the human heart. Do you listen to your heart? We’ve been created with a spiritual thirst that nobody and no thing can satisfy…but God. Are you willing to allow God to satisfy that thirst?
The Apostle Paul encourages us to examine the priorities of our life. Is our main goal pleasing ourselves or pleasing God? Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:11-12: “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called.” He tells us this because there is going to come a time when the work we as builders have done must stand, and he wishes for us to have built our spiritual lives to withstand that time of judgment. Everyone’s work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value. If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward. And that should be a priority as we finish our days in this short life of ours.
Making a living and making a life are two different goals. The Bible tells us to lay up treasures in heaven: We are to be rich in good deeds, and generous, willing to share. In this way those who heed the Lord’s instruction will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
God’s priorities and ours are often in a struggle. A Native American parable tells about this inner struggle. An elder of the tribe tells the following story: The struggle within us is like two wolves fighting against each other. There is a good wolf who wants to do what’s right but the other wolf always wants to do what’s wrong. Sometimes the good wolf seems stronger and is winning the fight. But sometimes the bad wolf is stronger and is winning.” A young brave asks, “Who will win in the end?”. The elder answered, “The one you feed.” This is so very true in our own life. As we look over the priorities we have, we may find that we really and truly are feeding the wrong wolf.