What Are Our Priorities?

Laptop, coffee, and notes

Our lives are shaped by our priorities. The time, energy, and resources we have are limited. Therefore, we will inevitably spend them on what is important to us. To make significant changes in our lives requires us to change our priorities.

What should be most important to us? The Bible shows us what our highest priorities should be. We need to see what the Scriptures teach and examine our lives and priorities to see if we are what we ought to be. So in this article, let us notice what the Bible has to say about our highest priorities.

Fear God and Keep His Commandments

The conclusion, when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Another translation contains the phrase, “This is the whole duty of man” (KJV). In other words, fearing and obeying God is all-encompassing. Every part of our lives must be devoted to the Lord and doing what He has instructed us to do. If this is not the overarching purpose of our lives, then we will not be able to please God. Peter told the household of Cornelius, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34-35). To be welcomed by God, we must fear and obey Him.

Seek First His Kingdom and His Righteousness

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Elsewhere Jesus used a parable to describe the kingdom as a “pearl of great value” that a merchant obtained by selling “all that he had” (Matthew 13:45-46). At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, He spoke of the need for us to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). There are many things that fall under the umbrella of “His kingdom and His righteousness” – assembling with the saints (Hebrews 10:24-25), praying to God (1 Thessalonians 5:17), studying the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15), and so on. These spiritual activities that are a necessary part of seeking “His kingdom and His righteousness” need to be a priority for us.

Provide for One’s Own

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

As we are consulting the Bible to make this list, some might wonder why this would be a top priority given the emphasis that the Scriptures place upon spiritual things. However, Paul said that one who “does not provide for his own…has denied the faith.” This is not condemning one who is unable to work to do this (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:10); but if one is able to work to provide for his own, he has a moral obligation to do so. Of course, this must be done within the context of fearing God and keeping His commandments and seeking first the kingdom (Ecclesiastes 12:13; Matthew 6:33); so we cannot work to provide for our families to the neglect of our spiritual well-being and responsibilities. Yet this must be a priority for us if we desire to please the Lord.

Do Good to All People

So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

James talked about the importance of doing good to others and connected it with our faith: “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:15-17). However, there are many non-religious people who do not even believe in God yet they seek to do good to others. Therefore, we need to realize that the good we are to do to others must be done within the context of serving God. Helping others does not excuse us from our other obligations to the Lord. Furthermore, Paul said we are to do this “while we have opportunity,” implying that we cannot neglect the other priorities we have already noticed in order to go out looking for ways to do good to others. Those opportunities will present themselves. We need to do good “while we have opportunity” as we continue to fear and obey God (Ecclesiastes 12:13), seek after His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33), and provide for our own (1 Timothy 5:8).

Conclusion

There are many things competing for our attention. We need to be sure we understand what is truly important and then shape our lives around fulfilling the purpose God has given us and carrying out His will in our lives.


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