“But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end...” (1 Cor.15:23-24a)
I remember the first time I faced the daunting task of changing from a larger to a smaller purse (for now). At times like this, you are forced to choose between the handy and the essential, right? Fortunately, I have ceased trying to play the role of the universal donor for every minor crisis! Now that my children are gone, there is less need for the virtual first-aid kit I used to carry. This same kind of thing is called when in all of life, I think.
The longer I live, the more I see that the people who accomplish the most in life—spiritually and otherwise—are the ones who know how to effectively prioritize. God Himself, Who has neither beginning nor ending, nevertheless works with man in an orderly fashion, putting first things first, as the text in 1 Corinthians shows. The trick is recognizing first things. And it all goes back to mindset and goals.
If my goal is temporal, if I seek to get all I can out of life and experience all that my physical senses are capable of, this will determine what I put first in line in my choices. On the other hand, if my goal is eternal, putting all I can into life and experiencing the exhilaration of holy purpose, then this, too, will be manifested by the position of importance I give to the kingdom of God. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt.6:33). C.S. Lewis once wrote in a letter: “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”
The thing to remember is that in most cases, the “second things” are quite legitimate. It’s simply that they are of less consequence than the “first things.”
This is probably why so many people get it wrong. It takes maturity to discern good from better, and there are many immature people, both in and out of the church.
To go back to the purse thing, as you might imagine, through the years now, I’ve played this little scenario of bigger to little many times. Consequently, I know now what is truly important and what only amounts to clutter. And perhaps the best thing about perfecting the art of wise prioritizing in life is that when the time comes to begin downsizing, you will already know where to start. Like the smaller purse, I am finding that I need less and less to maneuver through these final steps in my walk of faith; because, in the truly final analysis, much of life is just clutter.