Every now and then I find the time to take-stock and evaluate my priorities, I make a list of what the order of my priorities should be, and then I make a list of what my priorities actually are. Perhaps you have done a similar kind of thing, an immensely helpful practice to keep one focused and disciplined. My typical list would look something like 1) God; 2) family; 3) Church; 4) Work etc. However it came to my attention this past weekend that it is possible to have the priorities of your priorities wrong… what do I mean by that?
Consider the Scripture, “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” (Colossians 1:18). This text doesn’t say that Jesus is to be first place above everything, like my list above implies, but rather that He is to have first place in everything. This small preposition makes a world of difference. Jesus is to have first place in my marriage, in my family, in my work, in my church, in my finances, in my relationships, in my studies etc.
This protects us from two things, firstly from thinking of certain parts of our lives as separate from Christ. We tend to compartmentalise our lives, if we have had a time of devotion in the morning than we think we have fulfilled our Christian duty and now we can get on with the ‘real business of life’. What we see Paul saying here though is exactly what he meant when he said,” Whether you eat or drink, do all to the Glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).
Take two examples, marriage and studies. What would a marriage where Jesus is first in the marriage look like? Both spouses are seeking first to please Christ. You would be seeking ways to make your marriage show the worthiness and wonder of your Saviour. I would impact the decisions you make. What about studies? How can I put Christ first in my studies? Well, it would mean that an A is not my priority, but rather honouring Christ. If I am asked to do something that defames my Lord than I would have to say no, or find another way around it.
The second danger it protects us from is the danger of spending our lives digging for mud pies. What is the point of getting all the priorities on a list right, and succeeding at them in light of the shortness of life and the length of eternity. So you did well at studies, so you have a happy marriage, so you are successful at work; to what end? What’s the point of it all when you die and leave it all behind? It was that kind of thinking that led to the protestant work ethic, that all of life is sanctified, and that work done to the glory of God, no matter what kind of work, has eternal significance as God’s name is made famous in it.
As you evaluate your priorities, perhaps it would be helpful to look at what is the priority of your priorities. What is the goal in each facet of our life. Don’t relegate the Lord of all to be just the first in a few.