We all have priorities. Seniors, too. Yes, the scenery changes as the years continue to pass, and our issues also change. We worry about our kids, and now grandkids are added to the mix. Yet our need to have clearly defined priorities remains the same.
It’s easy to ignore that reality, but the most efficient, effective people are clear and specific about their priorities. Maybe there is benefit to examining our priorities so we can clearly examine our focus and be confident that our life is headed in the direction we most desire.
If we do not set priorities, everything becomes essential, and if everything is essential, our life is overloaded. It is easy to lose our focus, and we tend to wander. What comes first, second, third, and fourth for each of us?
What does the Bible have to offer to help us live a focused life? Let’s consider Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which is found in Matthew 6. In this chapter, Jesus lays out two different ways we can go about the setting of our priorities. One way is through worry, and the other is through worship.
Consider verses 25-34. Jesus is talking about the basic, bottom-line needs of life -- food, drink, and clothes. The listeners of His day had no access to refrigeration and no doubt had no closets full of clothes from which to choose garments -- conveniences that we take for granted today.
In Jesus’ time, there was no running water in the homes. The legitimate and first questions many of His listeners might have asked might include, what are we going to eat today? What water will we drink? In the world of that time, water was more precious than gold. One could not assume it was readily available as we do today.
In the world of that day, starvation was just a drought, a pestilence, or a crop failure away. These things were the difference between life and death.
Earlier in the sermon, Jesus says we cannot serve both God and money. It naturally follows then that we should not be anxiously concerned about food or money.
God cares for the birds, which neither plant nor harvest, and the wild grass which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven. Does it not follow that He will care for us as well?
“When you worry about such things, not only are you like the pagans but you dishonor God as well. He is fully aware of your needs. Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God...Anxiety and distress, interrupted occasionally by pleasure, is the normal course of [human] existence.” (The Twelve Seasons) Robert H. Mounce, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Matthew 61, 62
We should never set our priorities by the way of worry. We need not let our worries and concerns be the driving force of how we set our priorities. Why? Because we can never adequately or fully complete them. Have you discovered that?
If Jesus doesn’t want us to set our priorities by the way of worry, how does He want us to set them? By the way of worship. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33.
What does that mean, Jesus? Does it mean I sit at home and wait for someone to come and bring me my food? Should I sit in my church or synagogue and wait for solutions to my challenges to be supplied?
No. Jesus is not saying we should not be so busy with our worldly affairs. He is not pulling us away from the many people, events and duties that are involved in our lives. He is not suggesting that what we do is not important and necessary. Nor is He suggesting we should withdraw from our involvement and live quiet lives away from the world. That’s not how He suggests we deal with it.
His response is quite different. He asks us to shift our focus, our center of gravity, to relocate the center of our attention, to change our priorities. He wants us to move from “the many things” to the “one necessary thing.”
Jesus does not want us to move away from the world, but He wants us to live in it yet firmly rooted in the Center of all things. He is not talking about a change of our contacts or a change of activities or even a change of pace.
He is talking about a change of heart. This is what makes everything different, even while things appear to remain the same. This is what it means to “Seek first his kingdom...and all these other things will be added to you as well.”
What counts is where our hearts are.
Let’s choose the way of worship and reject the way of worry. When we honor God with our love, our life and everything else will become more simple.