Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Most Important Things

Micah 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Matthew 23:23

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe even the herbs from your garden, and you have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

Sometimes in life, I lose focus.  My priorities get shifted.  When my priorities are not God's priorities, I worry and waste my time and energy on things that don't matter.  Lately, God has been refocusing my heart onto His priorities.

Jesus used strong language when He scolded the pharisees.  He said, "You have all your spiritual ducks in a row.  That is fine, but you have neglect what matters most! The most important things are justice and mercy and faithfulness!" When it comes to my Christianity, it is easy for me, like the pharisees, to get focused on the external, the dos and the don'ts, instead of what really matters. While God cares about the externals, the externals are not His focus, His heart.

What are God's priorities (and what should my priorities be?)

Mark 12:30-31

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. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

"Do not waste time bothering whether you ʿloveʾ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him."

 - C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

According to Jesus, what really matters, what is really important is loving God and loving others. I must love God completely.  Then I must love others the way I love myself. God is convicting me that I don't love others the way I love myself. In my own strength, I am not capable of truly loving others. I need to be filled with the unselfish, sacrificial love that Jesus had when He gave His life for me. 

I have what Eric Ludy calls "depraved indifference" - an inward bent that is indifferent to others and that cares about myself. Oh, sure. I care about others, but do I care about others as much as I care about myself? Do I care about others enough to sacrifice some of my plentiful riches to care for the poor, hungry, and needy of this world? Do I care enough to go out of my comfort zone to tell my neighbors and the people I work with about Jesus? Or am I content with living in my own happy, (relatively) trouble-free, little life? I would rather buy another purse or new pair of shoes when I already have more than I can wear than sponsor a child in a developing country. I would rather go about my own business than show my neighbor I care.

James 1:24-27

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

“As a Christian, it is very apparent that you are to love the Lord with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. So myself doesn’t want to be starving, I don’t want other people in the world to be starving."

-Katie Davis

I love the story of Katie Davis. She both inspires and convicts me to live not for myself, but for God and for others. Here is her story:

Katie Davis took a short term missions trip to an orphanage Uganda on Christmas break of her senior year of high school.  During that trip she fell more in love with Jesus and in love with the people of Uganda.  After graduating from high school, Katie decided to take a year off before attending university. In the summer of 2007, Katie flew to Uganda again, this time to teach kindergarten in an orphanage for a year. Katie said "I moved over there thinking that I would be there for a year and then I would come back and go to college and be normal again." Fast forward to 2012. Katie never did attend university.  She still lives in Uganda.  Katie is now a mother to 14 daughters, has a sponsorship program that provides food and education for over 600 children, and runs Amazima Ministries (which she started) which helps Ugandan women with self-sustaining vocational skills. And Katie is younger than I am.

God may never call me to Uganda.  But how am I living my life by His priorities right now? Right now, how am I being the hands and feet of Jesus?

"People tell me I am brave. People tell me I am strong. People tell me good job. Well here is the truth of it. I am really not that brave, I am not really that strong, and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am just doing what God called me to do as a follower of Him. Feed His sheep, do unto the least of His people."

- Katie Davis

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