God, Family, Religious duties, Job…[Part 1]   Leave a comment

Priorities

Priorities

For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition” Mat. 15:4-6

  1. God first

Through this post I will not stress on what is evident i.e. God first, but on what follows. If God is first in our life, He will constantly remind and guide us on how we should prioritize the time spent with the family, church, work, friends and recreational activities.  Jesus said: “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:26

When God asks us to do something, the decision to obey should not be difficult even if that implies putting our family second. When God is not first, it’s turmoil.

2. Family second

The family has an important place in God’s plan. If we struggle to prioritize whether we should spend more time in ministry or with the family, the bible has given clear orders of priorities regarding these. If we are spending more time doing ministry instead of taking care of our family, we’re putting at stake both the healthiness of our family and ministry. How can a Christian be effective in ministry if he/she is in conflict with members of his/her family ?

Paul said:

He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him.For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?” 1 Tim. 3:4-5

How is it possible that some ministers take care more of needy/sick people in remote areas they do not know and neglect needy relatives of their own household?

This is an attitude that is highly reprehensible and that the Lord takes not pleasure in.

But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” 1 Tim. 5:8

If God has given a Christian the ministry to visit the sick and help the needy, he cannot use it as a pretext to neglect his own family.

Jesus considered such attitude hypocrisy.

This is what He said to the Pharisees:

For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition” Mat. 15:4-6

The Pharisees preferred to give to God money instead of supporting their needy parents. This is an attitude that God abhors. God does not need our money, He wants to see love and justice in our heart. The offerings made by the Pharisees did not glorify Him but were an abomination.

Have you ever said to your parents/spouse that you do not have time to help them because you need to go to church or do ministry? As long as our close relatives do not ask us to sin, we should meet their needs before trying to serve others. Honoring our parents/spouse even if they are not Christians is not an option, it’s a command.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus pointed out 2 religious officials who saw a fellow Jew lying on the road half dead. The two of them passed by this man without saving him. They were probably too busy or in a hurry to go to the temple that helping that dying fellow was not a priority. However, a Samaritan who was not of the same religion saw and approached this dying man, provided him first aids, took him on his donkey to an inn for rest. He paid the innkeeper whatever was needed to take care of that suffering man. The one considered unspiritual, the Samaritan, did God’s will but those who considered themselves religious and whom should have put into practice what they taught failed to do God’s will.

It is true that conjugal responsibilities reduce the time available to serve the Lord. The Lord Himself instituted marriage and does not blame us if we prioritize our family over ministry (God still being first). Paul mentioned this struggle to the Corinthians:

 I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided...1 Cor. 7:32

Unless God has given clear orders, it is not God’s plan that we abandon our family to do ministry. But of course, if our family’s needs are met it would be selfish to stay home and neglect our ministry. I have witnessed families of pastors torn down because their ministry and family priorities were not correctly ordered. Sometimes because not all church members help, the church leader finds himself doing most of the tasks and neglect his family. This leader did not follow God’s plan for his family and nor did the church members as they failed to assume their ministry responsibilities. If the church members were not selfish, the leader would have been able to take care of his family and the church members fulfilled God’s plan for their ministry.

Our relationship with God is what helps us to rightly set our priorities.

What matters most is not about what we do for God but about who we are. It is not about how many spiritual gifts/ministries we have but about how much God has been able to produce the fruit of the Spirit in us. The Spirit transforms our heart and mind into the image of Jesus. When God is first, the Spirit forges our character to make us the right spouse, parent, child, minister, worker and friend. We do know our priorities when God is first.

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Posted April 23, 2016 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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