Top Priorities

"Priorities" Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

A young banker was driving his BMW, in the mountains, during a snowstorm. As he rounded a turn the vehicle slid out of control and toward a cliff. At the last moment, he unbuckled his seatbelt and jumped from the car. Though he escaped with his life, his left arm was caught near the hinge of the door and torn it off at the shoulder.
A trucker passing nearby witnessed the accident, stopped his rig, and ran back to see if he could be of help. There standing, in a state of shock, was the banker at the edge of the cliff moaning, “Oh no, my BMW, my BMW.” The trucker pointed to the banker’s shoulder and said, “Man you’ve got bigger problems than a car.”
With that the banker looked at his shoulder, finally realizing he’d lost his arm, and began crying, “Oh, no! My new Rolex! My new Rolex!” (Sermon Central)

We can tell what the banker’s top priority was in this case. He was so obsessed with worldly things that he didn’t even care that he lost his arm. Obviously, this man had his priorities in the wrong place!

This scene raises a question: If it’s bad enough that losing one’s arm is not as important as losing one’s material things, then what about losing one’s soul? Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels,” (Mark 8:36-38, New American Standard Bible, NASB. See also Matthew 16:26-27).

Some people would give anything just to gain the world. In a figure of speech, some would give an arm and a leg to gain the things of the world without even considering that it might cost something much more valuable, such as their soul. But what is the soul?

The Bible definition of “soul” (Hebrew, nephesh; Greek, psuche) is primarily life and secondarily a creature or person who possesses life. Jesus was indicating that true life is not in getting all we can for ourselves but in giving him our all for the sake of following him. “For whoever wishes to save his life (soul) shall lose it; but whoever loses his life (soul) FOR MY SAKE shall find it,” Matt. 16:25; NOTE: Mark 8:35 adds, “…for my sake and the gospel’s shall save it.” Compare also Luke 14:25-26.).

Thus, when we deny ourselves and take up our crosses and follow him (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34) we are putting our priorities in the correct order. Our main objective for following Christ is denying our own wants and desires and doing what pleases him. He is our prime example of putting priorities in their proper places. He found time to pray (Luke 5:16) and worship regularly (Luke 4:16). He gave up his own diginity to play the role of servant (John 13:5-20). The highest priority Jesus had as servant was to give his life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). He was totally committed to stand against hypocrisy and injustice (Luke 19:45-46). He placed priority on living according to the commandments of God (Luke 10:25-26).

You may recall the scene where the rich young ruler asked Jesus about how to obtain eternal life. When Jesus told the rich man that his highest priority ought to include giving all of his possessions to the poor, the man went away sorely disappointed for he had much property. Jesus turned to his disciples who were standing there and remarked, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven,” (Matt. 19:16-26).

As we follow the example of Christ, we will make it our priority to love God first and all others next. Jesus emphasized that all of God’s commandments hang on these two commands.

One time a lawyer came up to Jesus and inquired,

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments,” Matt. 22:35-39, New Revised Standard Version, NRSV).

Now, I ask, what are YOUR priorities? Do you weigh them in view of the priorities laid forth according to the scriptures? Ask yourself what is most important for you as a follower of Christ. Are you putting him first in your life? Are you letting his teachings be the guiding influence in your life? And, are you seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness as Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:33? “But [continually] seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things [the things we deem are important but not necessarily the most important, vss. 25-32] shall be added unto you.”

By the way, when Jesus asked, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:37) he connected the question with his coming again (v. 38). At the time of the end when Jesus returns there will be those who will not have their priorities in order. They will be so wrapped up in the ways of the world that they will not be ready for that Great Day. Jesus calls such persons an “adulterous and sinful generation.” These are persons who will be ashamed of Jesus and his Words. The Bible makes it clear what will happen to those who do not make Jesus and his Word their top priority: Jesus will be ashamed of them (cp. Luke 9:26; 12:9; 13:27). So, we want to be careful where we place our priorities.

God truly wants to bless us and give us eternal life. That’s HIS priority. For, although we are sinners and deserve eternal condemnation, he loves us so much that he gave his only begotten Son to die that we may receive eternal life (John 3:16; 1 John 5:12). So, in response, our priority is to live for him. I can’t think of any higher priority than that.

spend time with God

Enjoy this beautiful worship song that invites you to give to the Lord all your heart, your soul, and your desire (click or paste on your browser):

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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