Have you ever started prioritizing your time, relationships, and money in a God-honoring way, only to have those new priorities begin to slip away years,months, and even weeks later?
For many of us, our priorities seem to have a way of becoming less and less important over a period of time. So what is it that keeps pulling at us andcauses our priorities to get out of whack?
Jesus says there’s a singular root cause of misplaced priorities. And that problem is materialism.
What is materialism? It actually has little or nothing to do with what you have. It’s a disease of the rich and poor and everyone in between.
Materialism is a condition of the heart where we’re trusting or even believing that the outward props of things, money, status andpower that they provide have the ability to achieve for us inward peace, happiness and satisfaction in life.
Material things are not evil in and of themselves. For instance, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a nice car or even having lots of money. We justaren’t supposed to put our hope or trust in those things.
If there’s one verse that helps me on all financial issues in life, it’s this verse written by the Apostle Paul:
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies uswith all things to enjoy. (1 Tim 6:18)
In Matthew 6, Jesus warns us about materialism and teaches us how to get to its root so that we can get to the root of our own misplaced priorities.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is so your heart willbe also. (v. 19-21)
Our treasure is always the greatest, clearest, and truest revealer of our hearts.
If our treasure is our money, time, energy, and resources, then we are putting our hope and trust in temporal things.
A few verses later, Jesus says:No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (v. 24)
The battle with our priorities boils down to this: Either we have faith in God and in His promises or we have faith in things and money and in their powerto deliver in our life. Although we can have both material possessions and God, we can only serve one.
What I’ve come to realize is that materialism has less to with things or money and more to do with our heart and our faith in God.
Now, perhaps you’re thinking,“This all sounds great, Chip, but how do you expect me to live in a material world without becoming materialistic? I still have to pay my bills, makehouse payments and buy food, right?”
God knows that we need things such as food, clothing and housing, but He doesn’t want us to worry or fixate on them.
Jesus tells us: “Therefore I tell you,do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body and what you will wear. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sowor reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:25-27)
In this passage, what Jesus is really saying to us is this: “Do you trust me to come through for you? Don’t you know that you’re significant and valuableto me? If you prioritize your life my way, I’m going to give the deepest things you long for in your heart because I love you.”
My prayer is that as we bring our priorities under the submission of God for His glory and our good, we’ll get our lives back in balance.
Want to know more about how to get a handle on your priorities? Browse ourSmall Group resources page or view our Weekday Radio Archive where you can access all of our previously aired radio broadcasts.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip