Monday, October 20, 2014

The Principle of Priorities

"Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright." (Gen. 25:34)

The English preacher and author, George H. Morrison (1866-1928), made a simple but profound observation in his book, Meditations on the Gospels. "One of the great arts of worthy living,” he said, “is the ability to see things in their relative importance." In other words, our skill in discerning what is truly important will in turn determine just how meaningful our lives will be. And the thoughts, words, actions, and people that receive our greatest consideration indicate their place of priority in our lives. Sacrificing what is both permanent and pertinent for the sake of immediate gratification or momentary considerations is to play the part of a shortsighted fool.

 It's all right to live in the moment as long as we make sure we're not living for the moment.

The verse says that Esau "despised his birthright." He would probably have argued that "despise" was too strong a word. Lost sight of, maybe; neglected momentarily, to be sure; but “despised”—isn’t that too severe? (If it were today, he’d be looking for some watered-down new translation, no doubt.) Well, the rest of the verse tells us he ate, drank, got up, and walked out. No big deal. In less than twenty minutes, perhaps, he had nonchalantly traded a godly heritage for a full stomach. I think this gives us a fairly good glimpse of where his priorities lay.

We all make foolish, even selfish, decisions from time to time; but when our choices consistently show no appreciation for the past and no anticipation of the future, our priorities are all wrong, and our lives lack all perspective and proportion. And, by the way, the standard for proportionate living is still Matthew 6: 33.

When we value trifles too much, we’re trifling with the truly valuable.

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