Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Who is Number One?

Everything you were taught can be put into a few words: Respect and obey God! This is what life is all about. God will judge everything we do, even what is done in secret, whether good or bad.

-- Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

The media have long recognized the public’s love of lists. Check out the magazine racks in any supermarket and you’ll see headlines for the Top 10 Muscle Cars, Best Ways to Renovate Your Home and the Year’s Nastiest Celebrity Breakups. Newspapers write year-end articles about the nation’s biggest political scandals and most costly business failures. And television embraces this popular genre through shows like the Top 100 Heavy Metal Videos of All Time, Best Caribbean Beach Resorts and the Greatest Engineering Disasters of the 20th Century.

Then there are perhaps the most controversial lists of them all (at least in the minds of sports fans). They’re the weekly Top 20 rankings of college football and basketball teams – often a topic for heated discussions in office break rooms across the country and over the Internet.

The fact is that everyone has opinions about what or who is number one in certain aspects of life. When it comes to entertainment and sports, we might have our favorite movie or forcefully defend our choice for the NFL’s greatest quarterback. But what’s your opinion about something a little more substantial?

Who (or what) is Number One in your life? Is it your family? Your career? Money, vacations or the weekend? Or maybe the answer is as close as the nearest mirror. If it is, join the crowd.

Regardless of how you answered this important question, King Solomon – probably the wisest man who ever lived – could relate to your perspective. In the Old Testament book called Ecclesiastes, he writes that he tried every pleasure under the sun to find fulfillment in life. And unfortunately for him, his search in all the wrong places brought him emptiness and sorrow. But we can gain much from the lessons Solomon learned the hard way.

First, fulfillment in life comes about only when we live for the right person. And in our case, that means living for God by letting His Son (Jesus Christ) live through us. Second, we can find fulfillment only when we live by God’s standards. After all, what good does it do if we say we’re a Christ-follower on Sundays but live quite differently on the other six? And finally, we find fulfillment in life only when we live with the right focus. In other words, live your life with eternity in mind. Careers, money, vacations – and even sporting events – may be the things that seem so important in our lives. But they’ll all pale in significance when it comes to what we do in life to help usher in God’s Kingdom here on earth. Being His personal representative is in the job description of every Christ-follower.

Now’s the time to look again in the mirror and decide who (or what) is really Number One in our lives. So consider Jesus’ timeless advice on this matter to His first followers. In today’s uncertain economic environment, you’ll see that His words of wisdom are remarkably relevant and reassuring:

“Don't worry and ask yourselves, ‘Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?’ Only people who don't know God are always worrying about such things,” the Savior reminded them – and us. “Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. But more than anything else, put God's work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.”

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