If I am a child of God, when I make my decisions in life, what should be my top priority? If I am considering an important choice, and if I write down a list of “plusses” and “minuses” for each option that I have available to me, should I count material benefits as most important, or should I give more weight to the spiritual side of the matters involved?
The Bible’s instruction on this topic is really quite clear. When it comes to material food and spiritual food, what did the Master say? “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man will give you . . .” (John 6:27). The physical body cannot survive without physical food, but Jesus says that something is of greater value than food for the body – that would be the food which endures to eternal life, that is, spiritual food.
The Lord expects every member of His church to carry out the message of Colossians 3:1,2: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” So, while Christians are “in the world” but “not of the world” (John 17:11,14), in every phase of life and in every activity, we need to make our spiritual wellbeing our top priority.
In all honesty, most people are a whole lot more concerned about material matters and the temporary things of their temporary journey on earth than they are about their spiritual welfare. We expect that from people in the world, but sadly too often we see blood-bought people apparently giving little thought to the spiritual consequences of their decisions. For each choice in life, we ought to be asking ourselves, “How will this choice influence my relationship with the God of heaven?”
Lot, like his uncle Abraham, had an abundance of livestock. When Abraham told Lot to pick the area where he wanted to live, Lot chose the plain of Jordan. Why? Because “it was well watered” (Genesis 13:11), and Lot needed a lot of water for his animals. So, Lot “pitched his tent even as far as Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). Later he actually lived in that vile and corrupt city, and though he was a righteous man, the filth of that place tormented his heart on a daily basis (2 Peter 2:6-8).
From a purely earthly and material standpoint, Lot’s choosing the region of Sodom made perfect sense. It would be great for his livestock, and he would be able to prosper. But what about the spiritual side of life in Sodom? Lot made material things his priority, and he paid the price. He was miserable each day, his two daughters married men that scoffed at the message of Jehovah (Genesis 19:14), and he lost his wife when she “just had” to look back at Sodom after the Lord by His mercy delivered their family (19:17,26).
We also remember King David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and its disastrous consequences. When David saw Bathsheba bathing, to his eyes “the woman was very beautiful to behold” (2 Samuel 11:2). She was another man’s wife, but, never mind, David wanted to sleep with her, so he did. Long before David’s time, Moses wisely and admirably chose not “to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). Not David; he chose physical pleasure over his spiritual wellbeing. Sleeping with a beautiful woman must have made David happy, “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Samuel 11:27).
Brothers and sisters, let us learn from the foolish choices of Lot and David – they looked at the physical benefits/pleasures of their options and failed to give proper consideration to the spiritual influence of what they undertook. You and I must examine things beyond their outward appearance and see how they will affect our service to the Lord.
When choosing a spouse, a Christian must look beyond outward, physical attraction and ask, “Will this person help me and our future children get to heaven?” “But she is so pretty!” Spiritual consideration comes first. Remember Lot and David.
When choosing where to receive an education, we need to ask, “Is there a faithful local church in which I can have an active part? If not, am I willing and capable of starting a new one?” Remember, spiritual must take priority over physical/material.
When choosing a job, the same questions ought to be of number one importance to each member of the Lord’s body: “How will this job affect my service to Jesus? Is there a faithful congregation there, and if not, am I ready to start a new one?” In connection with seeking employment, before taking a job a Christian should be ready to ask about and discuss his/her working hours and what would be expected of him/her (things like deceiving clients or drinking alcohol with customers). We have been dismayed to have some saints tell us after a job interview, “I am not sure if I will have to work on Sundays (and miss the services of the church) or not. I did not bring it up.” You did not ask?! If your heart is on things above, how can you not ask?!
Let us seriously weigh our choices in life. For both short-term and long-term choices, let us always put God and our service to Him first (Matthew 6:33). The Lord’s wonderful blessings await those who are willing to put and keep “first things first.”
— Roger D. Campbell