The prophet Jeremiah was called to prophesy to the people of Jerusalem during the reign of King Josiah and until the city’s final fall to the Babylonians. Jeremiah preached Old Testament themes in a fresh way. His unique theological contribution as an Old Testament prophet was his articulation of the new covenant between God and humanity (see Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Jeremiah emphasized that God’s chosen people, Israel with whom God had made a special covenant, had forsaken Him and chosen to worship other gods. In this verse Jeremiah claimed that instead of seeking God, the Israelites were going after worthless idols.
Instead of seeking God, which was worthwhile, they tried to find spirituality in idols, which were worthless. And, by seeking after that which was worthless their lives consequently became worthless.
You are what you wish for–rather, you become what you wish for–according to Jeremiah.
If what you wish for is worthwhile, it makes your life worthwhile. But, if what you wish for is worthless, it makes your life worthless.
But, what’s most significant about Jeremiah’s injunction is that the value you place on your life in this world has relevance for eternity.
Jesus described it as a matter of having eternal priorities.
Jesus said to look at your life as preparation for eternity: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV).
Your priorities are those things on which you spend your time and money. And, in this world the use of time and money is a zero-sum game—whatever time or money you spend on one priority takes away from what’s available for another priority.
So, the value your life has for eternity is what you make of it in this world.
Seek after God and your life becomes worthwhile–eternally. Seek after the things of this world and your life becomes worthless–eternally.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33, ESV)