Summary: For Paul the top priority was spiritual health or godlikeness
THE CHURCH’S PRIORITY
Introduction: What is the most important thing in life? According to a 2000 survey conducted by George Barna, 91% of adults listed having good “physical health” as their top priority; 53% identified being deeply committed to Christ as a top priority; and 42% said being active in a local church as a top priority.
In this chapter Paul mentions the word godless, godly, God and godliness 10 times. For Paul the top priority was spiritual health or godlikeness. One day every believer will be “just like Jesus.” But for now we are in the process of transformation. Let me show you how each of us can attain more godliness.
I. Don’t Believe Everything You Hear (3-5)
Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 6:33). He referenced the subject of priorities in Matthew 6:24-27. Jesus wants us to apply his teachings to life. In Ephesus there were those who were leading people astray by falsehood. Don’t believe everything you hear.
A. What They Were Teaching About You can save yourself by obeying the rules concerning meals, myths and marriage.
B. What They Were Driven By – they were motivated by conceit, deceit and the receipt.
C. What It All Resulted In – It results in friction, factions and feuding.
Build your life on Jesus and his instructions. Note the words “sound doctrine.” Develop an ear to hear. If the parable of the Sower and seeds is any indication, ¾ of the world isn’t listening to God. Seventy-five percent are missing the message. Many are being led astray by falsehood. Be careful to whom you listen. (Deut. 6:4, Neh. 8:3, Prov. 8:3; John 10:3-5)
II. Understand What’s Really Important in Life (6-10)
Don’t get sidetracked by the temporal. He is a fool who lives only for the material. Godliness, not goods, is the most important thing. Note some interesting words. “Want” = eager. To lunge. “Drown” = plunge. Those who lunge for only riches will plunge into ruin. We live in a day where there is a mad dash for cash. We have the desire for titanic possessions. We have the itch to be rich. We live with the gospel of greed. We chase the monster called more. Any day our ship is coming in. Any moment now the lottery is mine. I asked a missionary to Japan once, “What’s the predominant religion in Japan?” He replied, “The same as it is in America – materialism!” Check out the suits they sell at the funeral home. They don’t have any pockets! No use in using the extra material. The deceased don’t need them. They aren’t talking anything with them. Understand what’s really important in life.
III. Develop a Strategy for Success (11-16)
Don’t get outsmarted by false teachers. Don’t get sidetracked by the trivial. Don’t neglect your priority.
A. The Child of God (11) – You have to know God. You have to be his child. This is priority number one. Note “Man of God.”
C. The Confession to God (12)
D. The Command of God (14) - See verse 11. Flee from the temporal and pursue the eternal. “Pursue” (v. 11) means to strive constantly. Explore the words “righteousness,” “godliness,” “faith,” “love,” “endurance,” and “gentleness.” Flee, fight and finish. Pursue, persevere and praise. Strive, struggle and succeed. We ought to pursue God like a jackrabbit dashing for dinner.
Conclusion: Jesus was relentlessly focused on one task – the cross. He also was relentlessly focused on one person – his Father. That was his priority. It should be ours as well. If we will look to the primary, God has promised he will tend to the secondary.