Oh, time! And time use! The topic returns to me this morning, re-echoing in today’s Psalm 90 reading. There rings again the reminder of human life-span’s quick, short run, and the plea for God to “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”!
So my mind returns to that aid we use to try to manage time, the good old To-Do List.
Too often, however, it mismanages time! How quickly it fills with trivia and non-essentials! And Christ’s highest priorities that rightly should have top billing may not even make a showing there at all!
Often absent also, our Heart’s deepest desires. And truth is, the deepest desires of hearts truly aligned with Christ will “naturally” line up with His priorities, far better than will any average human list of To-Do “musts” and “shoulds.”
The problem is where we’re getting our cues, what’s making us jump and run.
My spirit knows this, but under “the tyranny of the urgent” my mind’s knee-jerk reactions to the latest barked commands (from who-knows-where) can eclipse my spirit’s greater wisdom, my heart’s deepest desires, and Christ’s highest priorities, all three.
So here’s a reality check: results of a scripture word search for “first” as Jesus used it to show one focus or action more important and pressing than another.
As you read this loosely organized and incomplete share, consider how His priorities have influenced your list making, and living—or not. It may turn your list, even your life, upside down! Or, it may affirm your list-making and triage techniques…
JESUS’ HIGH PRIORITY TO-DO’S
The highest priority aim in life to have:
Seek first (meaning primarily and foremost, not just first in the day, then forgotten): the kingdom of God and His righteousness (rather than financial security and physical necessities, even food and clothing, and other treasures on earth) (Mt 6:31-33).
(Actually the whole context of Matthew 6:19-33 is worth rereading)
The highest priority rule to follow:
The First and Greatest Commandment:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul (and mind and strength)—and flowing right from it the “second”: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mat 22:37-39;Mk 12:29-31)
(Do you see the “three loves” there? Someday I must write about them…)
First things first Jesus said to do (i.e., “Do this prior to that”):
Attempt reconciliation before presenting offerings (money, goods, or services, including those seemingly important capital-M Ministries and heady “high calling” ideas. Such “sacrifices” can actually short-circuit our love for both God and others, eclipse the apologies we should have made for stepping on others’ toes, and drive us to use those folks like things, to accomplish our desired achievements “for God”) (Mt 5:23-24).
Remove the “log” or “plank” in your own eye before looking for specks in others’ (i.e, Fix yourself first before trying to fix your neighbor) (Mat 7:4-5; Lk 6:42).
Clean the inside “of the cup” before polishing up the outside (Mat 23:25-26).
Count the cost first before making the commitment (Lk 14:27-31)
The most important gain, worth all that it is going to cost:
The Kingdom of God–
worth selling all you have to “buy that field” or that “pearl of great price” (Mat 13:45-46),
worth pursuing at the cost of losing all that’s nearest and dearest to you, even family and friends (Mat 10:35-39; 19:29).
worth the loss of whatever causes you to sin, even your right hand or good eye (Mat 5:29;18:8-9; Mk 9:47).
About wanting to “be first”:
Don’t do it!
Many who are first in this life will be last in the Kingdom—or barred from it! (Mk 9:35;10:31;10:44; Lk 13:30).
People priorities He warned against:
“First let me bury my father”
“First let me see to my real estate.”
“First let me take care of my marriage” (Lk 9:58-61;14:18).
I imagine there’s more, but that gives us a pretty good idea of where our priorities really need to lie. So, happy list-sorting! (But maybe the to-do list items aren’t the most important consideration, but our motivation and spirit in deciding to do them. More on that in some later post.)