Monday, February 10, 2014
Today’s Topic: Priorities
Today’s Text: 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
This coming Sunday I will conclude my sermon series called Wise Up: Living Wisely in a Foolish World. The focus of that final message will be on priorities. All this week I will be thinking about my own priorities with the purpose of discovering which ones are draining me rather than fulfilling Christ’s purpose in me. As I make it my priority to ponder my priorities, I will pontificate my progress so you can participate. For today, I start with this story from Gordon MacDonald.
In ancient days when the king of Siam had an enemy he wanted to torment and destroy, he would send that enemy a unique gift, a white elephant, a live, albino elephant. These animals were considered sacred in the culture of that day. So the recipient of that elephant had no choice but to intentionally care for the gift. This elephant would take an inordinate amount of the enemy’s time, resources, energy, emotions, and finances. Over time the enemy would destroy himself because of the extremely burdensome process of caring for the gift.
Our spiritual enemy uses the same strategy on us …. Let’s say you buy season tickets to [your favorite sports team], but because you now have a lot of games to go to, you no longer have time to serve in some area of ministry. Or let’s say you buy a summer cottage, but now you miss most weekend worship services between the beginning of May and the end of September. Or let’s say you buy a health club membership to get in shape. You used to get up early in the morning to read your Bible and pray, but now you don’t have time because you’re working out before you go to work. Or let’s say you approve a spot for one of your kids on a traveling sports team, and now you’re too busy to join your church’s community impact ministry as they serve the poor.
Are there white elephants in your life? Are you spending money on things that take your time away from God? The money isn’t the problem; the activities aren’t necessarily the problem; the problem is a white elephant “gift” that has pulled you away from God-honoring pursuits.
None of the above mentioned “gifts” are wrong. However, they become destructive to what Jesus calls “abundant life” when they take up so much of our time, resources and energy that we justify our lack of involvement in Christ’s purpose for us with excuses. We have redefined the abundant life we want in terms of wealth, opportunity, and fun, not only for ourselves but for our families as well.
Today I will make it my priority to not place value in the white elephants that have been given to me. Life is filled with options, but just because they exist doesn’t mean they are good for me long-term. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit I will become discerning about which opportunities are for God’s glory and not my own fulfillment. I will place value on eternal things, and center my life, my decisions, my resources, and my energies on what Christ says are of value to Him.
There is an old chorus we used to sing in church when I was a kid. The lyrics are my prayer for today:
With eternity’s values in view, Lord.
With eternity’s values in view;
May I do each day’s work for Jesus
With eternity’s values in view.