Summary: We have to learn to set the right priorities in our lives if we expect to experience God’s best.
SETTING RIGHT PRIORITIES
by Pastor Jim May
Something that is lacking in the lives of so many Christians today is the inability, or the unwillingness, to set the right priorities for their lives. Most of us act as “Reactionaries” meaning that we simply react to everything that happens; then we do our best to work our way out of the circumstances where we find ourselves. You just don’t see very many “Proactive” Christians. Proactive Christians are those who prepare their hearts and minds ahead of time for the trials that they know are surely coming; and by doing so they learn to set proper priorities in their lives.
How often do we see people who don’t spend time in prayer until God forces them into a corner where they finally realize that their only hope lies in prayer unto God? How often do people take for granted the things of God, until the day comes when all the things they have taken for granted are no longer available?
A movie that was popular a few years ago called “The Cast Away” gave us a good example of what it’s like to take something for granted until it’s not available. The character that found himself a castaway on a small island developed an infected tooth. While he had the opportunity to go to the dentist at home and had neglected, even avoided going, on that island he was all alone. How much would he have given to have a dentist available when the pain of his tooth became unbearable! Sometimes we just simply forget about how much we need someone until they aren’t there anymore!
I believe that Paul had his priorities straight. He knew what the most important things in life were and that’s what his life was always anchored in – that knowledge of who it was that he was serving, and of the will of God in his life.
In Philippians 1:21 Paul said, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." He was saying that while he was alive, his priority was to serve the Lord, so that when he died, his reward for faithfulness would be gained.
What are the priorities in your own life? What’s the most important thing to you right now? These questions can always be answered by looking at where you spend most of your time, and what are you doing with the time that you have? Too many people are seemingly just wasting the precious minutes of life on trivialities that have no eternal consequence except to cause them to miss out on God’s best.
Some folks have their priorities set only upon the necessities of this life while they completely ignore, or neglect, the necessities of preparing for the eternity that is surely coming. How often, during the day, do we actually stop and think about eternity? How much time, each day, do we take to imagine what Heaven will be like, or to picture ourselves walking down those golden avenues. We all talk about going there. We all preach about going there. But, are we really setting the priorities in our lives that will prepare us for the journey?
We all know that mankind has certain priorities and needs that must be met in order to sustain life on the earth such as food, clothing, water, and shelter. It’s not hard for us to set a priority to have those things for without them we will surely die. It’s only after we have taken care of those most important things that we begin to lose sight of what should come next and confusion sets in. All of a sudden we lose our way and our priorities get all out whack and it’s not long until we find ourselves in trouble.
There are some people who really have their priorities all mixed up. Here’s a story about one of them.
There was a woman who bought a parrot to keep her company but returned it the next day. "This bird doesn’t talk," she told the storeowner. "Does he have a mirror in his cage?" he asked. "Parrots love mirrors. They see their reflection and it helps them to start a conversation." The woman bought a mirror and left.
The next day she returned; the bird still wasn’t talking. "Well, how about a ladder? Parrots love ladders. A happy parrot is a talkative parrot." The woman bought a ladder and left. But the next day, she was back. "Maybe the parrot needs a swing. Does your parrot have a swing? No? Well, that’s the problem. Once he starts swinging, he’ll start talking up a storm."
The woman didn’t want to keep buying stuff and had little confidence that the swing would work, but she bought it, took it home, and put in the parrot’s cage, but the parrot just didn’t seem to even notice it.