What is the Priority of Your Life?

by BJ Rudge, Ph. D.

One of the things that comes to mind when I think about Father's Day is spending more time with my family. Like a runner at the beginning of a race, enthusiastic to begin the quest toward the finish line, I have the best intentions of accomplishing this goal.

However, the pressures and time constraints of life and ministry can weigh me down. What starts out as a noble goal can become a shattered dream –– unless I make spending time with my wife and children a priority.

So too, in our Christian walk, many start with the best intentions and possess a motivation to spend time with the Lord and in His Word. Yet, in time that enthusiasm begins to wane as the struggles and temptations of life pull them out of fellowship with the Lord. Instead of growing in the faith, many find themselves beaten down by guilt and struggling to get back on track spiritually.

How do we keep the Lord the main focus and priority of our lives and fulfill our calling to share what we believe and why we believe it? As the apostle Peter states,

"In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer [make a defense] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15).

We never know when someone –– perhaps our children –– will ask us a question about our faith or challenge our beliefs. So how do we go about being ready to give a defense of our faith? While only the Holy Spirit can change someone's heart, the following are four essential principles that will help equip believers to be more effective at giving a reason for our hope in Jesus and enable us to take the challenge and accomplish our goal of making Him the priority of our lives:

Principle #1: Devote yourself to the study of God's Word.

First, you need to be grounded in God's Word. As David noted in the Psalms, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). As a "lamp" and a "light" the Bible provides you with the necessary answers to life's ultimate questions. God's Word tells you why you are here, how you are to live, and where you are going when you die. With the Bible as your guide, you can be an effective "light" in the world (Matthew 5:14).

God promises that you will make your way prosperous and have good success if the "Book of the Law does not depart from your mouth, but you meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it" (Joshua 1:8).

The Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary gives the following insights ––

The phrase "from your mouth" refers to the custom of muttering while studying or reflecting. "Meditate" literally means "mutter." When people continually mutter God's word to themselves, they are constantly thinking about it. But knowledge of God's law is not enough; one must also "be careful to do" what it commands. "Everything written in it" must be observed, because obedience to certain parts only is no obedience at all (James 2:8-13).

Principle #2: Live a life of prayer.

Second, you need to saturate your life in prayer. Perhaps the greatest obstacle that prevents you from sharing your faith with others is fear. Maybe you are afraid of what others will say and think. Thus, it is crucial that you "devote yourselves to prayer" (Colossians 4:2) and seek God for wisdom and courage. You will be amazed at how He empowers you to be a bold and faithful witness for Him.

Principle #3: Be totally committed in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Third, you need to have an unwavering commitment to make Jesus Christ the center of your life. Total commitment to Christ requires more than mere belief. It requires a conviction that Christianity is indeed true, and therefore, results in a willingness to live for Christ with all your heart. A person of conviction will remain firm and steadfast in his or her faith — even in the face of trials and tribulations. As a result of our unwavering faith, others will see the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

"Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:34-35).

Principle #4: Be authentic.

Fourth, you must be genuine in your walk with Jesus Christ. As a believer you are commanded not to copy the behavior and customs of this world, but to let God transform you into a new person (Romans 12:2). As God transforms your life, you will become a living witnesses to the truth of Christianity. In contrast, when your actions do not match the words that you speak, it hinders your testimony before your family and friends.

As you are conformed to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29), not only will people hear your verbal witness, but your life will be a visual testimony. No wonder the apostle Paul said to "be imitators of God and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us" (Ephesians 5:1-2).

I hope you will accept the challenge of making Jesus Christ the priority of your life. Set a goal to implement the preceding principles to help you grow in your relationship with Him and be able to give everyone a reason for the hope you have in Him.