Summary: What Are Your Priorities? (Rom. 6:16)
What Are Your Priorities? (Rom. 6:16)
Illustration:Haddon Robinson points out that one old recipe for rabbit started out with this injunction: "First catch the rabbit." Says Robinson: "The writer knew how to put first things first. That’s what we do when we establish priorities -- we put the things that should be in first place in their proper order.
1. Have you ever thought what God will say to you about the priorities reflected by your life?
It is an illusion to think that we are following Christ’s priorities unless we are evidencing the fruits of righteousness.
Paul teaches us in this passage about making wise choices based on God’s priorities. He writes, "Do you know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness." (vs 16)
What God will say about our priorities will be clearly reflected by the quantity and quality of our righteous lifestyle.
Illustration: I think of Thomas Archibald who came to Nigeria in 1921 to start a Bible college to train young men to do church planting and Pastor those young churches. He stayed for 53 years and turned an entire region from cannibalism to Christ. Today the key leaders of the Evangelical Churches of West Africa have come from Archibald’s school. ECWA, the daughter church of SIM, has 6000 churches with over four million people in their churches every Sunday. Thomas Archibald chose to follow the priorities of Christ instead of being content to serve his own interests in the comforts of Scotland.
God can tell what your priority values are by the fruits of your life. You may profess good priorities but are the reflective of what the apostle Paul and Christ would exhibit if they were in your position.
Paul wrote, "Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me and model your way of living on it and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well being) will be with you." (Phil. 4:9)
Do you want to enjoy the fruits of righteousness? Choose to let God’s priorities affect all of your allegiances, values, goals and relationships.
2. Paul teaches us to avoid any discontinuity between the priorities that we profess and how we live. If we are not careful it is easy to allow a huge gap to grow between what we say and the reality of our lifestyles.
It requires a teachable heart to allow God to correct us in areas where our ideals do not match our actions. The Lord will not judge us by what we profess about our priorities or intentions. Instead, the Lord will judge us by what we do. When people ask us, "What are your priorities?"
We tend to tell them what we think they might like to hear. Or we talk in terms of what SHOULD be most important to us.
Look at Paul the apostle as one whose lifestyle reflected the priorities that he taught. He focused on giving God glory through evangelism, disciple-making, teaching, preaching and church planting. How are you doing in these areas of God’s priorities?
Ask the Lord for the courage to make the changes that will help close the gap between God’s ideal priorities and your present lifestyle reality.
3. Paul teaches that most people will have to swim against the contextual and fleshly currents. The vast majority of people will tend to go with the flow of modern trends.
Most people want to live a "Normal" existence. Few people want to be different or appear to oppose what the majority considers to be good. Most of us want to fit in and feel a sense of acceptance.
However, Paul writes, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Rom. 12:2) No doubt Paul reminded people of how Ezekiel taught that most people will just listen to Godly priorities and express agreement with their lips, but not let it change their lifestyles.
Ezekiel wrote, "The citizens say, ‘Come now and hear what the message is which comes forth from the Lord. And they come to you and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth and their heart goes after their gain… They hear your words, but they do not practice them." (Ezek. 33:30-33)
Perhaps, you need to ask some Godly counselors to help you evaluate your priorities. Godly people who are fruitful can help us be more objective about aligning our thoughts, attitudes and actions with Christ’s priorities.
Ask the Lord to help you avoid the errors of people who are hearers but not doers of the word and so deceive themselves. (James 1:22)