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Pointers along the way #391

Balancing priorities
- Jacob Ninan

We may be messed up in our priorities--with no priorities, wrong priorities, or even mixed up priorities. When we turn to God and desire to set our life in order, one of the things we need to re-work is our priorities. According to God who knows what is best for us, the top priority is to seek God's kingdom and His righteousness--first--, and then His promise is that He will supply us with everything we need for this life on earth (Mt.6:33). The word first is a key here, implying that He does not mean only. There are other things also we need to seek, each in its own order.

Jesus once told the Pharisees, "For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others." (Mt.23:23). In our context here the point is that while seeking after weighty matters less important things should not get neglected.

Some Christians pursue after a holy life, and withdraw themselves from the world, and they are unable to become salt and light to the world (Mt.5:13,14). Some focus so much on reading the Bible and Christian books that they classify everything else as worldly wisdom, and deprive themselves of knowledge that God has given to all people. They also don't know how to witness to people in the right way because they can't understand these people's values or thoughts. Some place 'spirituality' so much above everything else that they neglect their studies, work, family responsibilities, keeping things neatly and in order, etc. Some Christians in their zeal to 'burn out' for Jesus Christ end up shortening their lives or breaking down. If we would not take care of ourselves how will we be able to serve others?

Why do we do this? It may be because of a misplaced zeal for God coupled with ignorance. The Pharisees were originally God fearing people who were seeking out ways to be pleasing to God to the maximum level, but who went off on a tangent with a focus on external religion and missing out on inward attitudes and values (Mt.23:25). If we neglect the ordinary responsibilities of life under the assumption that we are seeking God supremely, we ought to hear Jesus' words, "these things you should have done, without neglecting the others."

It should be also noted that after reading this some of us may swing to the other extreme of seeking 'other' things first and neglecting the weightier matters! When we become aware of a tendency to be legalistic and focussing on 'touch not, handle not' etc., we may throw off all rules as a reaction! E.g., in order to 'take care of ourselves' we may take to too much of entertainment or relaxation! Or to avoid praying as a rule at different times, we may slowly stop praying also! No, our priorities should be balanced and constantly under evaluation.


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