Priorities; November 11, 2021

3 John 1:2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

John knew his friend well, and had no worries about his spiritual condition. With that settled, he also prayed blessing on the affairs of Gaius’ life, and on his health. (The NIV reverses that order.) We tend to get those priorities scrambled. There are proverbs in various languages to the effect that only the sick know what health is. For those with serious health issues, those issues tend to “suck all the air out of the room” in terms of priorities. However, for the nominally healthy, the general affairs of life tend to take priority. We’re concerned with making money, getting along with people, and gaining or exercising influence. Sadly, too often the spiritual never enters into our thinking. We have no grasp of the reality that we aren’t physical beings who happen to have a soul, we are spiritual beings who inhabit bodies. It’s no wonder we get our priorities confused! Jesus very famously said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) That is placing the spiritual first in our priorities, and when we do that, everything else does indeed fall into place. Placing finances first is a common mistake, but as Paul said, “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10) I couldn’t count how many people I’ve dealt with who’ve put things off “until I have the money” and have never gotten around to things that would have been major blessings. I’ve particularly seen that in Japan with marriage, and at times it is genuinely tragic. Interestingly, when the spiritual is properly placed first, even serious health issues recede into the background. They don’t disappear, but they are no longer all-consuming. It was easy for John to pray for Gaius because he knew his friend had his priorities straight.

Of course this applies to me, as it does to everyone. I have quite good health for my age, but I have had a few issues, such as basal cell carcinomas, shingles, and hernia surgery. Frankly, those have felt like no more than minor bumps, interesting experiences along the way. I have had ups and downs financially, and there have been issues with family and with other people that have upset me in various ways. All in all, though, God has been more than gracious. I think things look that way to me because the Lord has indeed let me have His kingdom and His righteousness as my first priority. I am increasingly aware that everything I can see, hear, and experience with my physical senses is temporal, and thus of minor importance. By God’s grace I am His child, redeemed by the blood of His Son, and in the final analysis that outweighs everything else. I want to be a good son, pleasing to my Father, so I am to be careful in my stewardship of all that He gives me, all the way down to each breath I take. It has taken quite a few years to get to this point, but I can say with deep gratitude that it is a place of peace and joy.

Father, thank You indeed for Your amazing grace toward me. Thank You for the uncountable abundance of Your blessings, on every level. The devil tries all he can to distract me and get me to complain, and sometimes I trip up. Forgive me, and help me indeed focus on Jesus Christ my Lord, (Hebrews 12:2) to be and do all that You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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