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Top Priority

Everybody has a top priority—that thing in your life that is more important than anything else. It drives your decisions, dominates your thinking and determines your emotional well-being. When your top priority is going well, you are doing well. When your top priority is threatened, you protect it and react to the people or circumstances that represent the threat. I saw this in Galatians 1 today. Paul is writing to some good friends in the city of Galatia who had gotten off track with the thing that was most important to him and he responded with strong words. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (v. 8 ) Obviously, the gospel was the most important thing in his life and rightly so. The gospel had saved Paul from himself and an embarrassing eternity. He relied on it heavily because:
• It gave him his purpose: “Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ.” (v. 1)
• It is powerful because it was made possible by “God the Father, who raised him [Christ] from the dead.” (v.1)
• It was selflessly secured by Christ “who gave himself for our sins.” (v. 4)
• It provides security in an insecure world as it “rescues us from the present evil age.” (v. 4)
• It sets people free by “the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ.” (v. 6)
Paul had seen his life transformed by a relationship with Christ. He went from persecuting the church to proclaiming the very message he tried to silence. He went from being bound to a long list of “have to’s” to being free to pursue a whole world of “get to’s.” He went from a pursuit of misguided self-effort to a God-given purpose that was empowered by the Holy Spirit. It shaped his life, settled his attitude, and satisfied his soul despite the difficulties involved.
It got me thinking about what my top priority is. I, of course, would say I agree with Paul that the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus is the most important message on earth. I would also say that the day I met Jesus at 16 years old was the most formative day of my life. It awakened something in me that I didn’t even know existed. It shaped the direction of my life and planted in me the desire to pursue ministry as the main focus of my life. So much so that when my ministry is not progressing the way I would like or is interrupted by the forces of life, I get frustrated. A restlessness sets in that must be addressed. My mind dwells on what must be done to get things back in motion. My emotions churn within me until a solution can be found that makes it possible to operate at full speed. Lower priorities get ignored to make room for commitments that will reenergize the higher concern.
Everyone I know does the same thing. The content of their highest priority may be different but they protect it with the same intensity. They pursue it with the same zeal. They plan their lives around it with the same determination. They push it regardless of the cost to themselves, their relationships or their personal health.
The big question then is, “Is my highest priority worth holding onto?” When the answer is no, change is in order. When the answer is yes, life is lived with confidence and positive influence.
Jesus, thank you for giving of yourself and sharing your eternal purpose with me.

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