There are certain priorities in the Christian life which all believers should have. All of which are important, but some are more important than others. Below are what I believe God has said we should set as our highest priorities, in the order of their importance:
1. Christian devotion to God – our love toward Him, relationship with Him, fellowship with Him. This will manifest itself in different activities we spend our time doing:
· private time
In summary - our love for God is the number one priority:
"Master, which is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Mat 22:36-37)
Make this your primary focus in life. It comes far before anything else. The greatest joy, experience, reward and purpose in life is to have fellowship with the God of the universe - to be close to Him, and to know Him well. Jesus said that this is the true meaning of life (John 17:3).
2. Be concerned for others, not just yourself. This is number two.
"And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Mat 22:39)
The animals of the earth are all in competition. You see predators in the wilderness all fighting over power, food, shelter, mates, and territory. Most people live this way. The second greatest commandment (and our second priority in life) says that the Christian must live the opposite of the way animals live. Instead of looking out only for ourselves and living to take care of our own – we must care for others as well. We must love them.
Probably the best, and simplest description of love that I've heard in my life is simply to have a concern for people. Wish good for them, and to do what you can to see that they receive it. To share what you have with them and to treat them as you would want to be treated. But Christianity takes it to an even greater extent than this. We must not only do this for our friends, but even for our enemies (Mat 5:44).
There are different levels of love. The love we have for our enemies is not the same we have for our family. The love we have for our family is not the same that we have for God. For example, God's word says that we must first concern ourselves with the needs of our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and then the world:
"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." (Gal 6:10)
Our duty is to love all men. But it's right that we love some more than others, and God above all.
3. Overcome sin. This means to obey God, and to overcome our disobedience and the sins which entangle us. This naturally flows out of our first two priorities, but it takes faith, prayer and conscious effort. God saved us not to stay in our old ways but to become like our Lord and Savior. This involves continual repentance and humility. It involves effort and self-denial. This is a life-long process, but we must truly be diligent in the process.
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Phi 2:12)
4. Serve the Lord. This is not the first step of the Christian walk, but service for the Lord will naturally flow out of your love for Him. You must at least be in the process of overcoming sin and walking with the Lord in your own life (#3) before you can do this. "First cast the beam out of your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to cast the splinter out of your brother's eye." (Mat 7:5)
Should the Lord not return in my lifetime, I want to come to my death bed being able to say that I served the Lord diligently. Serving Him is our expression of love to Him. I know a man who was gone away from home for awhile on business. When he returned, as he sat on the couch to relax from the tiresome trip his son ran over to ask him if he needed anything. "I miss you, dad. Can I get you some snacks or a drink or something?" That's an excellent example of how our service for our Father in Heaven should be.
"Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing."
"Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord" (Rom 12:11)
As important as serving the Lord is, there’s a great mistake that many seemingly mature believers make. They serve the Lord with diligence, and have zero devotional life. They forget about their number one priority, yet they think they’re spiritual! There’s a perfect example of this in the bible. You can read about Martha (who was too busy serving the Lord to spend time with Him), and Mary (who didn’t lift a finger… but was enraptured with our Lord’s presence):
"And as they went, it happened that He entered into a certain village. And a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she came to Him and said, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me. And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. But one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luk 10:38-42)
Have you known people who go to bible studies, preach to people, pass out tracts, know the bible inside and out, only to fall away from the Lord after all of that? Why did that happen? This is because they missed the most critical point of Christianity – love for God and fellowship with Him. They lived for the action of serving the Lord rather than loving Him. These people are like strangers to God. They might as well be demons, because God has the same type of fellowship with them that He has with the demons – zero. Is it true that people can do great things for the Lord and never have any type of relationship with Him? Yes, that’s exactly what Jesus said:
"Many will say to Me in that day, Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name, and through Your name throw out demons, and through Your name do many wonderful works? And then I will say to them I never knew you!" (Mat 7:22-23)
Serve the Lord diligently and cheerfully... as long as you haven't neglected the "one thing needful."