How being a Christian defines my priorities

 Photo by  Jon Tyson

Photo by Jon Tyson

I’m at that exciting (and also scary) stage of life where I’m figuring out what my values are and how they should influence the rest of my life.

I wrote a post a while ago about making decisions based on what you think is most important, instead of what gives you immediate gain.

And that’s all well and good. But first, you have to know what is actually important to you.

How do you decide what your life values should be? 

As a Christian, what I believe shapes my priorities, so I thought it would be worthwhile to talk about what they are.

Here are the six main values I came up with:

  1. Loving God (Matthew 22:34-40).
  2. Sharing the hope of Christ with others (Matthew 28:18-20).
  3. Loving people in deep, tangible ways (Luke 14:12-14); (Romans 12:9-21).
  4. Giving generously (Proverbs 19:17); (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
  5. Working hard (Colossians 3:23) and living simply without seeking status or riches (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
  6. Using talents and abilities to honour God (1 Corinthians 12:4-31) (1 Peter 4:10-11)

To be honest, I’m not good at very many things on this list. Writing them down made me thankful yet again that I don’t have to get it right and be perfect in order to be saved.

It's only possible for me to live this way through the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.

But as I said, I'm pretty bad at relying on God in this. So, I wanted to look a bit deeper into what these values mean and share some of my personal ideas for putting them into practice.

For some of them, you may end up living them out in different ways, and that’s one of the amazing things about following Jesus. He allows us to serve him in ways that best compliment our personalities, situations and skillsets.

I’m going to delve into each point on this list over the next few posts, but today I’m sticking with the first one.

What does it look like to love God?

It’s pretty cool how all the values above overlap. Each one comes as a result of loving God and in turn, they demonstrate our love for him.

  • We love God by doing what he says.

If we aren’t doing our best to obey God, then we don’t truly love him (John 14:23-24).

No, we can’t make up for our wrongdoing by giving to the poor and being kind to everyone. But as followers of God, we honour him by doing the work he values (1 John 3:17-18).

Imagine if someone you cared about decided to pursue a particular cause or defend a justice issue, solely because of their regard for you.

That is a pretty big commitment, and it shows you just how highly they view you. Plus, it makes you happy because you see them putting in effort for a cause you genuinely want to see advanced.

And if we truly love God, we’ll want to be involved in the causes he cares about. It should be a joy, not a burden.

  • We love God by prioritizing time spent with him.

Jesus legitimately wants to talk with us. John 15:1-17 is such a compelling Scripture passage about remaining in Christ’s love. I’ve already written a post about how working in a vineyard has expanded my understanding of what it means to abide in Jesus.

We need to invest in a relationship with the Lord. This involves bringing our concerns to him, asking for guidance, thanking him for what he has done, and praising him for his goodness and compassion.

You can read my post on prayer for more thoughts on the kind of relationship the Father has invited his children into.

  • We love God by studying his Word.

Scripture provides us with an excellent “guidebook” to understanding more of who God is. As with a person, you can’t get to know them if you don’t pay attention. We need to read God’s Word in order to know his character.

Of course, God is too complex to be encapsulated in the pages of a book. However, the Holy Spirit can continually give us new insight into the text, so that our understanding is constantly deepening.

It’s a lifelong experience of drawing closer to God.

I firmly believe you can’t have one aspect of loving God without the other. We must serve him, and spend time with him in order to know him.

And the rewards for loving God are immeasurably great.

We can never out-give God. Our attempts to show him love will always pale in comparison with the kindness, support, peace, and unconditional grace that the Father gives us. Each of us has an open invitation into that place of belonging and acceptance.

It's a life-giving, life-altering kind of love.

Read part two of this series.