He said to him, “ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39 (NASB)
This year I have resolved not to make any New Year’s resolutions. No one ever keeps them anyway. What I plan to do instead is set some priorities for my life.
About twenty years ago I was called to teach a Sunday School class of elderly ladies one day while their regular teacher was away on vacation. (At least they seemed elderly to me at the time although they probably weren’t much older than I am now, and I don’t really consider myself to be elderly.) I gave them the above illustration, and said that when the triangle got out of whack in any way we would have trouble. The ladies actually got angry with me, saying it should be a straight line. They quoted an adage: JOY equals Jesus first, others second, and ourselves last.
I told them the problem most people have is putting me first and God and others as a distant second, and that if it came down to a life and death choice, yes, they were right, but that in a day to day existence, we also have to be kind to and make some time for ourselves also, or we will become bitter and resentful, and be of no use to anyone. These sweet ladies acted like I was committing blasphemy.
I wasn’t. God loves me so much He sent His Son to die for me. He never meant for me to think of myself as having less value than others. He only asks me to value them equally with myself. Self-esteem issues already cause many of the problems people have. We shouldn’t compound those issues by demanding constant martyrdom of those who follow Christ.
Yet, although I’ve understood this principle, I’ve had many times in my life when I didn’t follow it. I was almost sixty years old before I had my first manicure, and I felt guilty at
“wasting money” on such a luxury for myself. I just didn’t feel like I deserved it. One year at my church I was a Sunday School teacher, the WMU director, the VBS director, a GA leader, the children’s choir director, and held numerous committee and other offices as well. By nature, I’m a doer and a giver, and it was never easy for me to say no.
But I’ve learned to set boundaries. I’ve had to. I have no doubt that God has called me to write even though at this point the world would consider my results dismal. My financial situation demands that I find ways to make money to live, but God demands that I put Him first and do what He has called me to do.
These are my priorities of the New Year.
- I will serve God. I will go where He sends me to go. Do what He tells me to do. Speak the words He calls me to speak, and give Him glory for everything.
- I will serve others in whatever capacity He alone calls me to.
- I will set aside time for myself to be alone with Him, to find His purpose and direction for my life, and to do the things that will bring me closer to Him on this journey.