ONE Thing I SEEK....The Discipline of Priority!
HAPPY 2019!! I love the New Year! I love that feeling that there is a New Beginning. I know for many people The New Year, and specifically this month of January, represents a fresh start with many new goals, and the rekindling of forgotten ones. We are usually pumped up on New Year’s Resolutions, with that Great Desire for discipline and goal setting on our minds. Something interesting for me is that even church attendance seems to go up around this time of year as that is one of many Resolutions that are set. The realistic fact, however, is that in the U.S only 8% of people, who set resolutions, will end up keeping them through February!! That is amazing to me! You see, even the best of intentions, even wonderful goals like reading the Bible more or praying more, are all wonderful, but most of the time these goals end up accomplishing very little! I want us to get to the heart of something Very Important! God has not taught us to set Goals, or Resolutions – He has taught us to set our PRIORITIES!!! God has shared this with us from the beginning of the Bible all the way to the very end! In order for us to recognize this we must first get a handle on what the word Priority means. I say that because this is a word we throw out there very easily. I have caught myself saying things like, “Honey, Painting this room is our Number 1 Priority!” I’ll tell my son that his First Priority is cleaning his room, or even just the other day I heard myself say, “Aaron, getting my eye liner is our Only Priority today!” I hope the ridiculousness of these statements make you laugh, and yet I will bet that there are others out there who have found themselves saying the same thing!
I want to ask us to dig just a little deeper into the beautiful simplicity of this word. The word Priority comes from its root word PRIOR! We should all know what this word means. It means BEFORE, AHEAD OF, or PRECEEDING! A Priority then is something that comes Before Everything Else! It Precedes Everything else! It is Ahead of Everything else! A Priority is what is Supreme, Essential, Foundational, Preeminent, Superior, or Primary in our lives. So when we talk seriously about the Priority of life what we are really doing is asking the question, “What is it that is antecedent in your life? What is it that is preliminary in your life? What is it that comes first, that directs, inspires, influences, motivates, and instigates everything else in your life? I really want to challenge you to think and pray on that very question. I want you to think, not about the “Right” answer you know you should give, but about the “TRUE” answer God is asking you to give.
Today I want to remind us, not about our Priorities, but about our PRIORITY – ONE – and there is Only ONE!
You may remember King David saying in Ps. 27:4, “ONE thing I ask of the Lord, This ONE thing do I seek: That I may Dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” David is asking for ONE thing! To be in the presence of God everyday and to ponder on His beauty and majesty! You may also remember Paul, in Phil. 3:10-14, saying, “I want to KNOW Christ. He goes on to say, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but the ONE thing I do…” Paul tells us that he has let go of Everything else in his life in order to take hold of the ONE thing he desires before all else, and that is to KNOW Christ is Every Way possible! This teaching of ONE thing does not stop there! Jesus Himself shares this important lesson with us through His interaction with my two favorite sisters. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus tells us that as He stayed at the home of Martha and Mary, Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Now this was revolutionary! The only people allowed to sit at the feet of a Rabbi were His disciples! A woman was never allowed to become a disciple or a student of a Rabbi. They were not even allowed to learn scripture. However there is Mary, right at the feet of Jesus with His other disciples, and she is Listening (that means taking in with Understanding) to everything Jesus is teaching. Martha is distracted by all she has to get done and she asks Jesus to make Mary help her. I love Jesus’ answer. He powerfully tells Martha, “You are worried and upset about Many things, but few things are NEEDED, In fact, ONLY ONE! Mary has chosen that ONE THING and it will NEVER be taken away from her!” Mary put Being with Jesus BEFORE all else in her life! She put Him BEFORE the cultural expectations, her family’s demands of her, or even her own reputation! She chose Him BEFORE all else and it would NEVER be taken away from her! We need to remember what God said to His people in Exodus 20:3, “I AM the Lord your God! You shall have NO OTHER gods BEFORE ME!” Jesus reaffirms this truth when asked what the greatest command was. He said, “You shall Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, with ALL your mind, and with ALL your strength!” Did you catch the absolute totality of that three letter word, “ALL?” This is an Individual call to Extreme Devotion and Jesus never backs down on that! As He calls people to follow Him, it is always by asking them to leave behind all else for Him! He never makes the request for us to be his disciples by telling us to hold onto whatever is important in our lives as long as we take hold of a part of Him too. He consistently asks us to lay down what we have been holding onto, to take up our cross, and to follow Him! Many could not lay down what was most important in their lives in order to put Christ BEFORE All else. For David, God and Relationship with God was his ONLY Priority. For Paul, God and Relationship with God was His ONLY priority. Jesus made very clear that this is the ONE thing that is needed. In His famous sermon on the mount Jesus teaches us that as a follower of Christ, and as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, that we are not to chase after or worry about what this world tells us is important. We are not to chase after what we will eat or what we will wear, or where we will sleep! Making these things our priority will only bring anxiety and stress to our lives! In fact, the anxiety Jesus is talking about here means to have “a distracting care.” Instead He tells us that we are to SEEK (to desire, to go after, to covet earnestly) FIRST (Before all else, Most importantly, Chiefly) THE KINGDOM OF GOD (His Rule and Reign) AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS (A heart that is right with Him) AND ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE ADDED TO US!
I want to encourage you to read Matt. 6-7 and ask the Lord if He truly is BEFORE ALL else in your life! Let this New Year be a Year in which we are not setting new resolutions, but we are setting ONE Priority! That God would BEFORE ALL we say, ALL we do, Every decision, Every action! May GOD be the ONE thing we SEEK!!!