Schedule your Priorities

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What is the greatest commandment? Jesus answers, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’” and “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” (Matthew 22:37 & 39). Although the Pharisees tried to box him into a situational answer, to set him up for failure, [1] Jesus both corrects and dodges them pointing out the foundational reason for every commandment: devotion to the Lord.

Jesus answer addresses the true reason for every commandment: worship. The use of ‘love’ in this text, conveys the idea of worship and devotion. To live is Christ. The First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:3-5). Worshipping God requires complete devotion to Him.

total devotion

Every commandment explains how to worship the Lord. Each commandment can easily be tied to Jesus’s answer. These verses apply to every situation in life. No matter what situation, our reason and foundation equals worship. When Jesus references, “heart,” “soul,” and “mind” He communicates the totality of our life. In other words, we should worship the Lord completely, in every way! Looking at false worship allows us to understand what total devotion requires.

  • A person who knows doctrine but has no motivation or action for the things of God falsely worships Him — even the demons know Christ is God.
  • A person may not know, have good motive and actions, but the lack of knowledge means he or she fails to follow God’s will.
  • A person may know and have the desire, but fail to act. Belief produces fruit. Fruit equals actions.

My worship requires complete devotion to our Lord. Everything a believer does, he or she does to honor, magnify, and glorify our Lord. Paul says the same thing, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Paul is not saying specifically, make sure your lunch specifically glorifies the Lord. Instead, he is advocating, the totality of your life should be organized in such a way that even the mundane things you do glorify God in heaven.

Implications

The commandment requires a believer to know (and study to know more extensively) our Lord. It means a believer is driven at the heart level to honor Him while exemplifying the changed heart through actions. Romans 12:1-2,

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

God desires my complete devotion. This is why worship does not cease at the benediction of corporate worship, but continues with different responsibilities.

So for a believer, our life needs to be dedicated to worship. One simple response to this charge requires we organize our life for Him. If the Lord matters, then shouldn’t it be seen in our use of time, resources, and relationships? If a person told me he loves MLB baseball but has no clue on the standings, who won last year’s World Series, when the season begins or ends, what a ‘south paw’ is, or never watched a game I wouldn’t believe him. In fact, we can tell a man’s priorities by where his time and money goes. A family who spends thousands on their kids’ sports and is out every night at different sporting events is dedicated to sports. A family who spends every night at a soup kitchen prioritizes that service.

Worshiping the Lord should be seen in our priorities! Godly people prioritize their life around God’s responsibilities to them. What are some simple steps we should take to prioritize our Lord?

  1. Make sure my priorities match Scripture’s priorities for me. If you’re not sure what they may be, ask your pastor or elders.
  2. Schedule around church gatherings. When my wife and I sit down to make our schedule, we start with church gatherings. When and what time are they? Then, after that everything else can fit into the schedule. This is where many young families fail. They start with everything else then determine if they are free enough for church.
  3. The Lord calls us to regularly gather with the body (Hebrews 10:25). To worship the Lord, a godly family sets out to make Sunday’s gathering preeminent. Sunday morning begins Saturday night, so a family should do everything in their power to make sure Sunday begins prepared for. They will not jam their Sunday morning pre-church so full that it causes them to be late or abrogate responsibility.
  4. God calls believers to practice the ‘one anothers’ too. Therefore, a godly person not only joins with the church because it’s the event requiring “my attendance” rather, they join the church to serve others. Worship therefore requires engaging others to pour into them. So worship requires prioritizing people! What stands in the way of serving people? Whatever answer, is it good enough to give an account to our Lord for why abrogating this responsibility?
  5. Be involved in ministry during the week. God calls us into the body of Christ to serve others and minster to them (Ephesians 4:1-16). What do we communicate to our kids when church is only a Sunday event and not a relationship we’re involved in? Our kids learn what matters by how we spend our time and resources.
  6. Give. Give financially and regularly. Be involved in supporting the work of ministry in your church. It is a responsibility and a privilege. When writing out a budge, include first giving to the local church. This does not have to be 10%, but it should grow over time. If you’re surrounded by debt, work to pay this off. But in the mean time, give. $1 is better than nothing and pray your giving grows.

These are some practical ways to organize the schedule. This of course doesn’t mean you’ll worship when you attend. Make it your goal to learn how to be a better servant all the time, even if you’ve been serving the Lord your church family faithfully for 30 years.

Live by biblical criteria

Our family still does sports. We do not see this contradicting “glorifying God” nor does it trump our worship. We want our kids to play and we want to have relationships with the families as Gospel witnesses. Because our priorities are in order, we trust this honors Him too. But engaging others outside the church still creates interesting scenarios. Sometimes we are invited to participate in a team party or birthday party. We are happy to do so. But early on my wife and I decided on one principle. If it ever comes down to it, we will pick our church family. So, if we are invited to two birthday parties on May 5th. One being with a soccer teammate and one in the church, we will serve our church family. During our marriage we have only had to actually apply this principle one or two times. Rarely does it come up, but it reminds us, our first calling is to God’s family, where we know these relationships are eternal.

Most of this discussion centers around the church. Why? Because it is an important relationship that most seem to struggle to grasp. Here are some other priorities God calls me to:

  1. My spouse. My wife is the most important person on earth. I will choose her all the time. Btw, if you’re setting up the church vs your spouse, you’re doing it wrong. I choose my wife’s sanctification by leading her to church and being involved. (See Eph 5:23, 1 Peter 3:7, Col 3:19)
  2. My children. God calls me to father them. I am to point them to Christ, nurture, provide for, and prepare them for adulthood. (See Col 3:21 and Eph 6:4).
  3. Work. This one usually takes little convincing because people need money. But we are called to work. I work to please God but also work because my kids need me too! How I work honors the Lord: be on time, have integrity, do not complain about my boss, etc (See Col 3:22-23 and 2 Thess 3:10-11).
  4. My neighbor. Who is my neighbor? Everyone. I am to love everyone just like I love myself (Matthew 22:39). If I loved everyone like I loved myself, I would be excellent at taking care of them and giving them the best attention I can. For believers, I am called to serve and love them to help sanctify them. For unbelievers, I pray I’m an ambassador who can lead them to Christ!

Godly priorities sit at the foundation of worship. We need to be fully devoted to following Christ and serving Him. This is the greatest commandment and by God’s grace we are able to walk in the good works He has prepared beforehand for us to do (Eph. 2:10).

[1] RT France says about the Pharisee’s test question in 22:34-40, [Providing] “one legal principle over others, and this carried the risk that other teachers, who might have made a different choice, could accuse their colleague of belittling the importance of some other equally scriptural principles. . . . Any answer must risk pleasing some at the expense of alienating others, and therein perhaps is the element of ‘test’ from an unsympathetic dialogue partner, particularly in view of the suspicion already noted in 5:17 that Jesus had come to ‘abolish’ the law.” (Commentary on Matthew 842).

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