“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, NIV).
In this one concise statement Jesus reveals a fundamental attribute of human behavior: People do what’s important to them!
In other words, your priorities dictate your behavior.
Your life in this world is not so much a matter of what you get out of it as what you put into it.
All of us have plans for the future and goals we want to achieve in life. These could be plans for success in your career, a six or seven figure salary, a new home or maybe an exotic vacation.
Whatever the plans or goals are, we strive for those things that are important to us. And, Jesus makes it clear in this pronouncement that the things that we personally value are the things that control our lives.
Priorities are those things that we accomplish first before other things–the most important things. Sometimes we think or claim something is a priority yet we don’t really behave like it is. A prime example is the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16ff, Mark 10:17ff, and Luke 18:18ff. This young man came to Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus told him to keep God’s commandments, the young man asserted that he had done this. Then, Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor, but he wouldn’t do it because he had great wealth.
The young man thought his priority was obtaining eternal life, but it was really maintaining the lifestyle of the rich and famous!
So, a priority is an authentic priority only when it modifies the way in which we transact our lives–our behavior, what we do. The litmus test of an authentic priority is the amount of time and/or energy and/or money one spends trying to accomplish it. In other words, the things that are really important to us are those things on which we spend our time and effort and money. And, we could probably add to the list, the things we think about a lot.
Your authentic priorities–that is, what you treasure–will be the driving force for what you spend your time and resources thinking about and doing–that is, where your heart is.
In this world the use of time and money is frankly a zero-sum game—whatever time or money you spend on one priority takes away from the time and money spent on another priority. If you work late every night, then you don’t get to spend time with your family and you don’t get enough sleep.
The authentic priority of God’s people should be to do the will of God—to allow God to transact His plans and purposes through our lives.
God’s people will spend their lives unfulfilled when they are involved in doing God’s will only to the extent that is convenient or expedient for them. Like the rich young ruler, they may keep God’s commandments but they never really experience the reality of God’s care and provision over their lives because too many other priorities prevent God’s will from being their authentic priority.
To authenticate the priority of God’s will to your everyday life, you may need to eliminate some competing priorities–those priorities that hinder the commitment of your time and resources to doing God’s will. You cannot do the will of God when other things retain a higher importance in your life.
So, for the Kingdom of God to come into our lives, the kingdom of our lives has to go.
What you have in life may have relevance for this world, but what you do with your life certainly has relevance for eternity.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21, NIV)