A healthy life involves well-articulated priorities.
But who should set our priorities? It seems pretty obvious, right? My life: my priorities.
But is this biblical? Better yet, is this even sinful? For God said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) Perhaps we are tempted to picture the worshipping of carved idols, instead of God. But anything that we put before God is an idol.
Before I go on, let me be clear. There is no judgment in caring about things other than God. In fact, it would be irresponsible to lie down, pray, and stop taking care of business. But let’s also be clear: there is a big difference between making something a priority, and in making it the priority, the thing that gets you up, gets you going and gets you passionate above all else.
Philippians 4:13 is straightforward, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” We are to do life through Christ. This means He is the filter through which we determine the remaining priorities in our life, and how we manage them.
Take a look. Have you been worshipping idols? Putting any of these relationships or goals above our relationship with Christ can create imbalance, discontent, and what feels like continual striving without rest.
Our children’s happiness—What an admirable desire, to have happy children. But if worshipped, this desire can lead to an imbalance in our marriage due to neglect or to overindulged children. We are called to put God first, to be attentive to our marriage and to be teachers and leaders of our children. See Deut. 6:6-9.
Our spouse’s approval—Contrary to popular belief, we are not called to earn our spouse’s love or respect, but we are called to give it freely. By falling into this trap of earning their approval, we are missing a relationship opportunity that should emulate Christ’s relationship with the church, which is based in grace and submission. See Ephesians 5:21-33.
Our financial “peace”—We are to manage well what we have been given. But we are to also trust tomorrow to the Lord. We must plan and store, but we must also have faith and not allow our financial fears keep us from serving the Lord. See Luke 12:18-34.
Our health/self improvement—Constant improvement can be incredibly self-serving and not God-serving. While it is healthy to have goals and to maintain a healthy lifestyle, we have to be careful of our motivation. If we are trying to prove our worth to someone, or trying to find our worth based in our accomplishments, we can be undervaluing our position in Christ. Being healthy helps us serve God with our bodies, but we must not forget the gift of health and seek only to serve ourselves. See 1 Cor. 6:19-20.
Our youth—An obsession with staying young undermines our growth and our experiential wisdom. We are not meant to stay young. Youth is fleeting and while we should not be in any hurry to age (or worse yet, wait around to die), we must be bold enough to look at ourselves through “God’s eyes” who sees us not for our age, but for who we truly are. See 2 Timothy 2:22 and Psalm 90:12.
Our plans/desires—We all have a plan. We all have something we long for (if not now, at some point). But we can become so focused on our own plans that we refuse to even see what God might desire for our future. We should be talking to God first about His plans for us, rather than simply seeking for Him to approve what we have already set in stone. See Phil. 4:6-8 and Prov. 16:9.
Our mistakes—Mistakes can keep us down when we worship these mistakes by constantly replaying them in our minds, telling ourselves why we are not good enough to do the thing that God has equipped us to do. We cannot allow shame from keeping us from doing God’s will in our life. Seek forgiveness and use your past to serve others. See Psalm 37:24 and Phil. 3:13-14.
Our emotions/situation—There is a time to grieve and a time to dance. However, there are times when we refuse to heal or refuse to move on because the pain seems more comforting than the idea of letting it go. Essentially, we put God on ice while we stay in our emotional holding pattern. We must focus on God, even in our troubles, and peace will find us. See Romans 8:6.
Our reputation—When we are more concerned for what people think about us than what God knows about us, we can become afraid to live boldly, too timid to share our testimony, too terrified to be vulnerable or too petty to be humble. In doing this, we can become slaves to our fears rather than servants to God. See Romans 12:2 and Eph. 2:8-9.
Our religion—Yes, we can even worship an idol while convincing ourselves we are worshipping Christ. When we are more in love with the idea of rules than the reality of loving people, we are no longer focused on Christ, but rather focused on being right. Being right is not the same as being righteous and it will neither bring us happiness, nor bring a single soul to Christ. See Phil. 2:1-4.
Peace comes from knowing and doing the will of God. But we often operate inversely, doing life without God or by maneuvering slightly around Him, calling on Him when our plans let us down or life gets too hard.
Our intentions are good: be a good parent, be a good spouse, save money for emergencies, run a marathon, be respected in the community, or just get through the day. But without asking ourselves why we are doing these things (and knowing that we are doing them for God), we are putting God in a box, and pulling Him out when it’s convenient.
But a life that seeks happiness through other sources without first going through God, will be a parched and shriveling life. For, “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14) No matter how desperately we pursue to quench our thirst without God, it cannot and will not happen.
It is time to pause, meditate on our priorities and have a talk with God, asking Him, “Am I putting you first, or am I using you as a last resort?”
If He’s not first, is He really our God?
Kris Wolfe is a Christian, wife and mother. She is a freelance writer who focuses on spiritual and practical encouragement, writes lessons for small group purposes for churches, and is also a small group coach. Kris has a master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Luther Rice University and Seminary and is a listed TN Supreme Court Rule 31 Mediator.
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