Priorities (Philippians 1:21)

This morning we will pause our study of the Gospel of Luke in order to prepare our hearts for next week’s “Show Me” High Attendance Sunday.  Do not let the name fool you; the primary emphasis is not just about getting a high attendance.  While we want high attendance, our primary emphasis is to build relationships with our friends, neighbors, and co-workers and help them see their need for Jesus Christ to save them from their sins.

In order to prepare ourselves for the work we shall do this week of reaching out we shall discuss our Priorities.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Let’s consider this truth more closely.

To Live is…

What is your reason for getting out of bed in the morning? Everyone who wakes up, gets out of bed, and begins their day has a reason for doing so. They may or may not be aware of what it is, but everyone has a reason and that reason motivates them.  What motivates you?

Money? Possessions? Power?  Your motivation may be money.  You may be the person who earns money to simply have money.  I knew a man who had more than enough money but rarely spent any.  He was motivated to make money and keep money.  You may be motivated to get money so that you can spend money.  You bear your burdens, work long hours, and sacrifice in order to have money so that you can buy nice things that you feel will make you happy.

Closely related to this is power.  In our society, the more money one has the more powerful they become.  When Bill Gates and Warren Buffet speak, people listen because they are powerful and rich.  Many people are motivated to get money because they crave power.

Pleasure?  Your motivation may be pleasure—specifically physical pleasure. You may devote yourself to temporary relationships for the purpose of obtaining physical pleasure.  Once the relationship has ceased to be pleasurable, you move onto the next temporary relationship.  You may have fallen into the lie of our society that says: “You only live once, so enjoy life to the fullest”.

A person who is motivated by physical pleasure becomes consumed with sensuality and lust. Their entertainment—whether movies, TV, magazines, internet—is a daily indulgence in sensuality.  They pursue physical pleasure with all their might.

Family? Job?  Your motivation may be your family.  Some people devote themselves to the care of their family and will do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they want and need.  They want to be a good mother or father so they work very hard to make sure family is taken care of.  You may be motivated by your job.  You could care less about how much money you make because you enjoy the type of work you do.  You are motivated to be the best and you expend all your energy into your job.

Have you seen yourself in any of these areas?  Is money or pleasure or family or your job your reason for getting out of bed each morning?  You should want to make money, you should enjoy pleasure, you should take care of your family, and you should use your energy productively but these should never be your primary reason for getting out of bed.  If your primary reason for getting up in the morning is not Jesus Christ, then your priorities are wrong and you are wasting your life.

Christ Jesus!  Paul writes—under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—“For me to live is Christ.”  This is a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  Paul wrote that his life is devoted to Jesus and nothing else. Paul preached, taught, ate, lived, and breathed so that men and women may be saved and know Jesus Christ as their Lord.  What does this mean for us?  It means that when we wake up in the morning we say, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20).  We say to God in prayer, “My life is yours, you are the reason I am here and the reason why I do everything I do.”  Our priority in life is to know Jesus more and make Him known to others.

With this as your reason for getting out of bed and your motivation, you are now free.  Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33).  You are free to earn money; not for your gain but for God’s glory.  You are free to pursue influence; not to get power for yourself but to influence people to become followers of Jesus. You are free to pursue pleasure; not to satisfy your sinful lusts but to better enjoy the goodness of God. You are free to love your family; not so that you can find your worth in them but to help them grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said in John 8:36: “if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed!

To Die is…

This last section is very short because it does not require many words to make the point clear.   Consider the verse again: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  If you remove Christ from the verse, the last word changes from gain to loss.  If you live for anyone or anything other than Jesus, you will suffer loss.  First Baptist, too many people in our community have given themselves to false gods and idols.  When they die, they will suffer the loss of all things.  They need Jesus.  Let’s examine ourselves, get our priorities straight and make disciples.