Priorities. Did you know that word actually means pretty much nothing? The word priority comes from the Latin word prior which means former or first.
That which is a priority is first. It’s the source out of which something else comes. So to have many different “firsts” somehow ranking against each other makes little sense.
In other words, you can only have one priority. Or…
To do two things at once is to do neither – Publilius Syrus
One of the most important questions you can ever answer about yourself is, what is the one thing for which I’m really living?
I know what you’re thinking. I’ve got family, work, friendships, hobbies, my finances, my physical health, and a dozen little side projects at any given time. Can I really drop them all and focus only on one? Not exactly.
This is what Jesus had to say about living with a single priority…
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
~ Matthew 6:33 NRSV
The word Jesus used – “first” – is from the Greek word proton. In other words, for the Christ-follower, God’s kingdom is our one priority.
It’s interesting that Jesus said this in the middle of a talk about worry and anxiety. He told us to stop worrying about all the details of life and just seek his kingdom first. Then, all the things we have been worrying about will take care of themselves.
And first means there is something after. So when the kingdom of God is our one priority, everything else about our lives flows out of it.
Perhaps it would be good to define kingdom. A kingdom is the realm over which a king has reign and rule.
God’s kingdom, someday, will come in all of its glorious fullness on earth. But today, his kingdom is within his followers. It subtly and subversively pops up all around us as people follow Jesus, submit to his will, and carry out the mission of telling his redemptive good news to all the world. Here’s the implication:
All I have to worry about today is the will of the King, Jesus.
He has a will, a desire, for my soul, for my family, for my finances, for my church, my work, my friendships, and everything else about me. And it’s all redemptive. It all points back to him when I’m living in close fellowship with and obedience to him.
This is not an issue of “just go to church a lot and forget the rest.” It’s a matter of focusing our thinking on him and his truth every day in such a way that who I am and what I do flows out of my rightful place in his kingdom.
It’s not a matter of “getting your priorities straight.” That just gets confusing and convoluted and you wind up juggling and trying to please everyone and there is no more miserable life to be had than a life of trying to keep everyone else happy.
It’s a matter of living to please and serve the King who sacrificed his own life to redeem us for an intimate relationship with himself.
My priority today is living for my King, Jesus, and my wife, kids, friends, church, and neighbors are all glad of it.
What’s your single priority?
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- McKnight, Scot (Author)