Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day Twenty-Three: Priorities

The WORD of the Day:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." 
--Matthew 6:25-33

Let Me Give You a Lift:

Today's Word is taken from Jesus's Sermon on the Mount. Jesus conveyed a strong message about worry, and priorities, and it is one that we definitely need to hear from time to time.  The imagery Jesus uses here is beautiful, using as examples some of nature's most fragile creatures.  Birds do not store away food, yet they are fed; flowers do not clothe themselves in fine fabrics, yet they are lovely. He points to how God cares for these plants and animals, and reminds us that we, being far more valuable than they, will  certainly be cared for by our Father as well. Within the powerful images, though, are even more powerful lessons for us:

(1) Worry is fruitless.  Nothing in our lives can be changed by worrying about it.  We may cause ourselves undue strain and stress by it, but worry does not alter outcomes.  Most often, worry means that we are stuck, not sure what to do.  And if you'll recall from Day Three, there is an antidote to this problem: our arsenal.

(2) Worry is caused by a lack of faith. Worry is the opposite of peace. Often, it results from concern that we must do everything by our own efforts. We have forgotten to let God take the lead.  When that happens, when we feel alone, when we feel inadequate to a great task in front of us, that is when worry takes hold. But there is an antidote for this as well.  We must take a step back, humble ourselves, and let God lift us up.  He can do anything, after all. And we are never alone.

(3) Worry often accompanies skewed priorities. Many times, worry results from chasing after things in this world--a job, a promotion, more money, nicer things, a bigger home, etc.--that we can't seem to grasp.  Even when we do obtain them, we worry that we haven't done enough to keep the job/promotion. We worry we haven't gotten enough or saved enough, and we worry that what we do have will be taken from us.  That's why the biggest homes and the nicest neighborhoods have alarm systems and huge gates to keep the rest of the world out.

Sometimes, we need to take a step back and really evaluate. Am I concerned about something I need or something I want?  If the former, I should not worry because God provides me with everything I need.  If the latter, it's not really something I need, so should I really be worrying whether I have it or not?  

There is nothing wrong with wealth or ambition in and of themselves. But if they are at the top of our priority list, we will find them to be hollow victories when we get there.  What we have to seek first is the kingdom of God, which enriches every other experience in our lives.  When we seek His kingdom first, the things that should be at the top of our priority list--loving family, helping others, and everything that flows from the second greatest command--naturally follows.

Like the quote from Jesus yesterday tells us, we have to take great care about where our heart is. If it is fixed on God, we have a stillness in our lives that keeps them from being wasted on worry.  And if at times we find our lives focused on the things of this world instead, it's never too late to make a change.

Give it a Listen:

Today's song is "Hold me Still" by a group called Forever Jones. This is a great gospel group with some truly beautiful harmonies.  The song is about how God is our rock, and no matter what is going on around us, God brings peace, and He holds us still. 

No comments:

Post a Comment