Your house is on fire, your yard desperately needs to be mowed, and Target is having a sale on home decorations you like. Which of the three are you handling first? The answer is obvious. The most dire circumstance is the burning home. In less obvious situations, though, how easy is it to tackle the lesser things at the expense of the greatest?
We have a finite amount of time and resources. One life before stepping out of this reality into eternity. It's safe to say priorities are of utmost importance yet often out of wack.
What do our news feeds say about the people we let influence us? What do our social media posts say about our convictions? What do our bank statements say about our compassion? What do our calendars say about our love?
When given the chance to judge or love, what happens most often? When presented with the opportunity to argue or advocate, what tone is most common? Again, with very little time, what matters the most?
A controversial pastor once said to a group of young people, "I don't care what you're doing with alcohol and sex if you don't have a heart for the poor." Sobriety and purity are obviously crucial, but true religion centers around orphans and widows, the least and the poor. It was a racy way to say the heart of our calling is the pursuit of good, not just the legalistic avoidance of the bad.
Do we try to figure out other people and their problems before we work on ourselves? Should we line the street corners with hateful signs, or give someone the shirt off our back? Tasked with the greatest commission, how should we use our time?
I can't help but continue to come back to this reminder in a world so bent towards the negative:
"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)
Let's put first things first, as the late Stephen Covey said. Let's start each day with an urgent list and be adamant about sticking to it. Otherwise, we will go pick out a lamp for the living room of a house that's burning down.
What really matters the most?