“Physical health.” “Family.” “Making money.” “Happiness.” No doubt these are some of the more popular answers that we would receive if we asked adults what really matters the most to them.
Without question, the status of one’s physical health has a tremendous influence on his/her life in a number of ways. And, we all easily see the significant role a person’s family plays in his/her life. What about making money? In most cases, when one has no money he is unable to obtain needed products or to receive certain services. Yes, having money is important. The fourth item in the list, “happiness” or peace of mind, is also of great value, although one might count himself as “the happiest fellow in the world” and yet not be the kind of person that the Lord wants him to be.
The word that comes to mind when we consider what really matters most in life is the word “priority.” “Priority” is defined as “Something which takes precedence; something which must be done or taken care of first” [Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus, 1997]. So, the question that must be asked is, “Should the items noted above take top priority in my life, or is there something that I ought to consider even more important than my physical health, my family, making money, and my personal happiness?” Indeed, there is something of far greater importance.
The Lord Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36,37). The Christ makes it sound as if the welfare of a person’s soul is of supreme importance, does He not? Remember, the definition of “priority” is “something which must be done or taken care of first.” Did not the Master have something to say about “keeping first things first?” He did, indeed: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). There is no way to escape the force of Jesus’ demand: God and His Cause must be first in the heart and life of a follower of the Messiah. Putting God’s Cause any place but first is not acceptable! That is not an idea that originated in the 21st century, and it is not a concept that came from modern-day bishops or preachers. It came from the Son of the living God!
Non-Christians sometimes think it is strange or crazy that faithful disciples of Jesus consider Him and His kingdom as more precious than anything else in life. Sadly, even some members of the Christ’s church look at their brothers and sisters in the Lord as being fanatical or out of touch with reality when they see that those godly children of God have their priorities in the proper order: Jesus is first, then everything and everybody else comes after Him.
Another passage that speaks plainly about priorities in the life of a member of the church is Colossians 3:2 – “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” The choice is ours: we can either devote ourselves above all else to earthly affairs, or else we can make heavenly/spiritual affairs our top concern. But know this: the consequences of our choice will be eternal.
“And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). That sounds familiar, does it not? True, that was the message of the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 6:5), and Jesus quoted it to a Jewish person at a time when the old law was still in force. However, loving the Lord and His cause above all else is also a great demand of the teaching of the Christ (John 14:15; Colossians 3:2).
Jesus will one day raise all the dead. Some will be raised unto “the resurrection of life,” while for others it will be “the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28,29). What will be the determining factor as to whether a person will go into eternal life or eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46)? Each person will be judged according to “the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Those who had their focus in this life on something other than the Christ and service to Him will have eternity to think about their tragic decision not to make Him the center of their lives.
We would not for a moment try to minimize the great importance of a person working to maintain his physical health, loving and enjoying his family, making money to be able to provide for himself and others, or trying to be happy. These all have their proper place in life. But, let us all admit and accept this truth: none of these are God’s answer to the question that serves as the title of this article: “What really does matter most in life?” What matters most in life is for us to fulfill our responsibility to our Lord to love Him and put His Cause above all others.
We close with one final consideration. When you and I make out our yearly plans, where does our service to Jesus fit in? When you and I make out our plans for each month, where does our service to Jesus fit in? When you and I make out our “things to do” list every week, do we have the Lord’s Cause foremost in our thoughts? Finally, when we make our plans for each day, things that we just “must” get done, where does our service to the Christ fit in? May the Lord and His Cause always be our heart’s first love. Let us keep first things first.
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.