“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.
“Thus says the Lord: ‘What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?'” (Jeremiah 2:5, ESV).
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.
“But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her'” (Luke 10:41-42, NASB).
I have a busy life. Busy, busy, busy. I have all these important things I need to do. I suppose I’m an important guy because everything I do or need to do is so important!
But, I’ve got so many important things to do that there’s not enough time to do them all. And, it seems that I’m adding things to my “To Do” list faster than I’m checking things off of it. The list of incompletes is growing faster than the list of accomplishments.
In this busy, busy, busy life of mine, doing all these important things I am doing can distract me from the main reason I am doing them. All my busyness can distract me from the one thing that really matters. All my busyness can cause me to lose focus on Jesus!
“Now, the Lord of hosts says this: ‘Think carefully about your ways'” (Haggai 1:5, HCSB).
The work of rebuilding the Temple had ceased for about ten years by order of King Artaxerxes of Persia (Ezra 4:24). Near the end of this ten-year cessation period, Haggai the prophet received a message from God to incite the repatriated Jews to complete the rebuilding of the Temple.
“If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue you from the Philistines” (1 Samuel 7:3, NLT).
Samuel had gathered all of Israel together to repent of their idolatry and rededicate themselves to God.
While Israel was assembled, the Philistines attacked them. Samuel prayed and God helped the Israelites defeat the Philistines because they had repented and rededicated themselves to serving and obeying God. Consequently, the Philistines didn’t attack Israel again until after Saul became king.
(This is the third in a series of three meditations on the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19.)
“Everyone who has left houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, children, or fields because of my name will receive 100 times more and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last and the last first” (Matthew 19:29-30, HCSB).
Matthew 19:13-30 recounts the familiar story of the rich young ruler and his meeting with Jesus.
After His meeting with the rich young ruler, Jesus explained to His disciples why he advised the man to sell all his possessions. Jesus explained by declaring the well-known and often misinterpreted maxim that it is hard (or impossible) for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, as difficult as trying to thread a needle with a camel (Matthew 19:23; Mark 10:23; Luke 18:24).
The rich young ruler had come to Jesus to ask what good things he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied that only by obedience to God’s commandments does one obtain eternal life.
(This is the second in a series of three meditations on the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19.)
“When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions” (Matthew 19:22, HCSB).
Matthew 19:13-30 relates the familiar story of the encounter of Jesus with a man traditionally identified as a rich young ruler. This passage describes the encounter between Jesus and the rich young ruler. In a debriefing with His disciples after the encounter, Jesus made the well-known camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle analogy, depicting the difficulty confounding rich people entering into God’s Kingdom.
Now, the rich young ruler seemed to be a person who wanted to do the right thing.
He wanted to acknowledge God in his life and be faithful to Him so he could make it into heaven.
(This is the first in a series of three meditations on the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19.)
“If you want to be perfect, Jesus said to him, go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21, HCSB).
Matthew 19:13-30 relates the familiar story of the encounter of Jesus with a young man who is thought to be a person of some standing among the Jews. So, he is traditionally identified as a rich young ruler.
The passage in Matthew 19 first describes the encounter between Jesus and the rich young ruler, followed by a post-encounter discussion between Jesus and His disciples in which Jesus points out the spiritual disadvantages of affluence. His explanation to His disciples is highlighted by the ironic camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle analogy depicting the difficulty that confounds rich people in making it to heaven.
“You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.” The work of rebuilding the temple by the returning Jews ceased for about ten years by order of King Artaxerxes of Persia (Ezra 4:24). Near the end of this ten-year cessation period the word of the Lord came to Haggai the prophet to stir up the repatriated Jews to complete the rebuilding of the temple. Haggai told the people in no uncertain terms that their priorities were out of order and as a result, nothing was working right in their lives. They sow much but harvest little; they never have enough to eat or drink to satisfy themselves; they can’t hold on to the money they earn (vs. 6). Why does nothing go right? Because their lifetime To-Do List was out of order. They were building their own houses when the Lord’s house lay in ruins (vs. 4). God tells them to look at their priorities and put Him first: “Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord.” Nothing will go right in your life until your priorities are in the correct order. First build God’s house and then your own. Reorganize your lifetime To-Do List: First God, then everything else! When building God’s house is the main priority of your life, then you can be assured that He will help you accomplish everything else on your lifetime To-Do List.