“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39 ESV
We want to obey Scripture, but struggle over the implications of some passages. We aren’t sure how to work them out in our lives.
In the verse above, Jesus tells us that we have one major purpose in life – to love God with total heart, soul and mind. Then we are told about a second requirement like the first one – to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
This sets up an apparent conundrum for us, especially as it’s been taught to us since childhood as “Jesus first, Yourself last and Others in between.” We’re told that the correct sequence of those three responsibilities spells ‘JOY!’. But in reality, it often spells ‘HOW?’ to us instead.
Is this a mathematical formula we are to follow? Do I break the 168 hours of my week by priority into three groups? Since Jesus is most important, is He to receive 58 hours, others 56 hours leaving 54 hours for myself?
How does that work, especially if God wants me to sleep, because 8 hours a night times seven nights takes 56 of those hours out of the equation. Now what do I do? Do you see why there must be another way to take these words of Jesus seriously?
I believe putting Jesus first and foremost in our lives is not about hours… not about keeping meticulous count of how we use our time. It’s really about using all our time for the glory and purposes of God.
If I’m in the Word and prayer, I am doing it unto God. When I stop to help my neighbor with a project, I’m doing it unto the Lord. When I attend church on the week-end, it’s to honor and praise my God. On the job, I am working as a representative of my Heavenly Father, leaving behind a job well done and the testimony of a life lived obediently for Him.
It’s not ‘what’ we do, but to ‘whom’ we are offering any part of our lives. It’s been said, that when we do it right, we discover there is no ‘secular’ part of us left – just the sacred mixture of God, others and self!
And that’s always giving God the best we have.