Discipleship

Setting the Right Priorities

Bible Lesson: Philippians 3:1-14
Theme Verse: Vs. 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Eric Liddell was a missionary child born in China. When he was seven years old his parents sent him to a boarding school in Britain. School officials encouraged him to participate in sports, and young Eric soon developed an athlete’s physique. Along with his physical exercise, early morning he used to spend time in prayer and bible study. After entering into the university he broke one record after another in sporting events. By the time when he arrived at the Paris Olympics, Eric was known worldwide as a powerful athlete and as an outspoken Christian. He continued to refuse to run in a race on Sundays that could win the gold. In 1925 he came to China as missionary and ministered every day to the people in a camp at the time when the Japanese invaded China in 1937. He spent time in praying with the sick, coaching the children, witnessing to the lost. A camp survivor was asked the reason for Liddell’s influence at the camp. She said that every morning at 6 A.M. he would rise and light the peanut-oil lantern on the little dormitory table and would silently meet God at the start of each new day by reading the Word and praying to God. The question before us is: To what do we give our first and best efforts? Is there one thing we should put first above all others?
In SAIACS library, there is a picture of an eagle with huge head and shoulder, which stares right back at you with rather piercing eyes. Below it says, ‘if you chase two rabbits both will escape (Chinese proverb)’ In order to excel in our spiritual lives we need to be focused no matter what may come. Most of us chase too many things at a time.  Always keep the main thing as a main thing i.e. we need to set our priorities. When Paul says, ‘one thing I do’ it means that within the focus to God, Paul sets his priorities. In Vs. 13, his first priority was ‘forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.’ Before conversion, Paul had full confidence in himself. In verse 5-6, he speaks of: pride of ancestry – Jew by birth & member of God’s chosen nation; pride of orthodoxy – Circumcised on the eight day, belonging to Benjamin tribe (aristocratic background) above all a Pharisee; pride of activity – persecutor of the church; pride of morality – blameless. But in vs. 7, Paul writes: ‘but whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.’ Guy King says, “All financial gain, all material gain, all physical gain, all intellectual gain, all moral gain, all religious gain—all these are no gains at all compared with the Great Gain.” If we claim ourselves to be Christians then we cannot continue in our old habits. Once we are saved by His grace it means we are saved, then No turning back! No turning back! Bible says in Col. 3:1-2, ‘set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’ Our focus should be on Jesus Christ who is the Lord of our life and source of all heavenly blessings.
In Vs. 14, Paul mentions his second priority i.e. ‘I press on toward the goal to win the prize.’ There is no gain without pain. In order to win the prize we need to ‘press on.’ For this we have to struggle even to the point of death. Christian life is like a race and we are all called to run a race. There are so many distractions, obstacles and temptations on the way but our labor in Christ will bring reward at the end. 2 Tim. 4:8 says, … there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing. Dr Graham Houghton writes in his leadership book, ‘don’t spread yourself too thin by attempting to do too many things at once. Set priorities and get the most important things done first.’ In endeavor to do many things, we can end up achieving very little. When the Israelites eventually entered the Promised Land, God told them that the first thing they needed to do was to worship Him by bringing before Him some of the produce of their first harvest (Duet. 26:1-2). We need to place God on priority in everything what we do. By doing so we will be able to enjoy our Christian race with enthusiasm rather than loading ourselves with unnecessary burdens. We should have the courage to say No to other things because it will carry us away from our vision for which God has called us. As we trust in God, He will give us wisdom to fulfill our duties daily. Heavenly father knows our needs and He provides us in His own time but ‘…seek first the kingdom and righteousness of God and everything shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33).’
The key to having God’s ‘abundant life’ is keeping Him
                                                          in His rightful place in our priorities.                                        Joyce Meyer