When I was a child I wanted to be first. I wanted to be the first in the door when we got home. I wanted to be chosen first when it came to playing games. I wanted to be the first to be called on by the teacher when I raised my hand. I wanted to be called first when the teacher took the roll call. I wanted to be the first one to choose what program we would watch on the television. I wanted to be the first one to have all the latest fashions or new toys. I wanted to be the first person picked to serve on the safety patrol. In my little mind being first was significant. Being first signified that I was important and treasured.
But I wasn’t first. I was the third and final child in my immediate family. I wasn’t particularly talented at playing games, especially if they were athletic in any nature. I wasn’t particularity smart, and of average intelligence, so I wasn’t often selected to give the correct answers in school. And, forget being called first when the teacher did the roll call, my last name fell more than 2/3 of the way down the alphabet. As for choosing the television program that us kids would watch, well with two older brothers that rarely happened. However, I do concede that I did pretty much have most of the newest fashions and I certainly wasn’t lacking in toys.
I never really felt significant that’s for sure. I figured that these things – recognition, admiration, intelligence, material possessions – made me someone to be treasured. And like the rich young man in Mark 10, I loved my possessions, they made me a person of substance, they made me important. I could no more leave these treasured things that defined me, than that rich young man of Jesus’ day.
As a child, teenager, and even as a young adult, I hitched my wagon to the popular notion that more things, new possessions, were what defined me as successful and important. There was always something new to obtain and in the recesses of my mind I was sure this newest item of clothing or goods would complete me, would fill the hole in my soul. Surely obtaining the newest television would be the pinnacle of achievement. Getting the promotion to supervisor or manager would for sure make me happy. Then, and only then, would I have “arrived.”
Only as an adult, I began to realize that things, these material possessions, can’t fill me, and they certainly don’t complete me. Things can never do that, nor can people. It’s trading in the short-term focus from hollow gratification to adopting the long-term eternal perspective on how I live my life, the choices that I make. It’s in keeping that focus top of mind, and fixing my gaze upon the saving grace of my Lord and Savior that needs to be my motivation for all that I do.
It’s not easy, that’s for sure, because my sinful nature gets in the way, time and time again. Thankfully my Savior doesn’t expect me to be perfect, He knows what it’s like to be human. He knows what temptation is, He knows that I will fail, I will fall down. And, He cares enough to help me right myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. It’s a daily commitment to dwell in God’s Word, to read, to internalize, to reflect, to ponder, and act upon the realization that my life is forever entwined with that of Jesus. Since He sacrificed His life for mine, I can certainly try to squelch my selfish nature to reflect Him and His glory.
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12, ESV)
Before you entered into a personal relationship with Jesus, what did you focus upon?