The science of priorities

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Raymond Golsworthy

Without a doubt, these are days when a new basic science has to be built into the over-all education of the human being. It is the science of priorities.

In the times of our fathers, only one or two necessities were simultaneously claiming their attention at any given time. But now it is one or two hundred, or even more. Legions of clamouring voices, in fact, are on the air and innumerable appeals are continually streaming in to us from all directions, each of them vigorously demanding and insisting that we devote large quotas of available time and strength to this, or that supremely important matter. Little wonder that our youth, particularly, is noticeably bewildered!

And they are not all small things, by any means, that claim our thought and bid for our attention. Many sizeable and far-reaching matters are daily shouldering their way into our already tight-packed schedules and claiming, it would seem, our very souls. A college student, for example, if he listens to all these claims, is positively required to be a walking miracle. He must give meticulous attention to countless vital matters and all, it seems, at one and the same time!

To start with, he must carefully and profoundly consider which particular line of study he will pursue and he must face, sincerely and maturely and without delay, the whole great issue of this future career, arriving as soon as possible at settled and reliable convictions as to what particular field of human usefulness he is best fitted to occupy. As soon as he gets away into his corner, however, to face his problem, someone arrives in a steaming track-suit and with a panting voice tells him that he must give considerable time, as well, to healthy and body-building recreations. For these, he is assured, are altogether indispensable to the proper development of the mind and to the securing of good and wholesome character.

Here, however, his troubles are just beginning. He quickly learns that he must also be prepared to spend sufficient time on the discovery and cultivation of pure and profitable friendships, for sooner or later he too will need a true companion; one who loves at all times and who has been born for adversity (Prov. 17:17). He must also be careful to read widely and comprehensively if he would know, at all, the space-age wonder-world which now he lives in. And, in this connection, he is wildly told that it will be a great economy of time if he will first survey the whole field of available literature and select very carefully, those particular books and periodicals on which he can most profitably concentrate his full attention.

Already he is a very busy and rather complicated creature. And yet, at this point, he realizes that the matter of his family, too, has to be considered and he knows from experience that he must be prepared to pay the price for peaceful and happy integration into the existing unit, giving unstintingly to father and mother, brothers and sisters, the time and attention they understandably claim and unquestionably deserve. All this, he agrees, is essential for a right foundation to life and he is convinced that such an attitude will eventually spread its multiple and varied gains to every separate area of the life and to the carefully allocated occupations of each day. And being a student of course he must devote some time to studies and even, perhaps, to sleep!

Coming now to things that are truly serious, we admit that we have not yet mentioned the major duty of all young people who confessedly live in a God-created and God-controlled universe. What of our day-by-day relationships with our Maker? What about a true and dependable security amidst the moral quick-sands that are all around us? And, further still, what of an ultimate security in the light of a fast-approaching eternity, when each of us must give account of himself, or herself, to a living and Holy God (Rom. 14:12)?

Yes, indeed, what of that whole great area of the spirit in man and of the obvious need of living a life that does justice to its whole existing context, for only such a life can be really joyful, satisfying and victorious. And apart, again, from this strangely consuming matter of ourselves, we surely have large debts to pay to others; debts of spiritual and helpful ministry to those surging multitudes around us who may have been far less privileged than we have and who may be anxiously reaching out for some dependable testimony and help from a non-professional, but deeply convinced, contemporary who really knows his God.

Indeed, indeed, what a science to be mastered is this science of priorities! How great the need for some adequate initiation into its fundamental laws and its hidden mysteries! But here again, thank God, our need is met.

We do not hesitate to say that to this great science also there is a golden key that marvellously unlocks the whole. The wisest of Old Testament kings undoubtedly referred to this key when he said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). Furthermore, the great King of all Kings, our Lord Jesus Christ, actually placed the key right into our hand when He said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Math. 6:33). There, without a doubt, is the essential secret! Putting it briefly, we may say that when the undoubtedly first things are set and established in the undoubtedly first place, everything that follows and makes up life, will naturally find its right and orderly position. In other words, to give to Christ Himself, the priority is to master this whole great science of priorities.

The Bible itself states that in all things Christ must have the pre-eminence (Col. 1:18). This is the very substance of God’s eternal purpose and this is why we read in history that God raised up Jesus from dead and highly exalted Him and gave Him a Name which is above every name (Phil. 2:9). The simple fact is that God Himself has sovereignly ordained that Christ be the very centre and meaning of all things and it logically follows that if our lives revolve around any other person or any other thing, even our own personal success, we are inwardly and thoroughly eccentric. We are ultimately out of gear with everybody and everything and certainly out of fellowship with God. Our priorities are wrong.

In the whole of life, the basic fact we have to face is that we all have sinful hearts (Jer. 17:9) and we desperately need an able and authentic Saviour. We need a thorough cleansing in the sight of God and a new deposit of eternal life imparted from above. This, precisely, is what the Christian Gospel offers to us. This is why the Son of God was manifested and this, as well, is the inner meaning of His precious blood. And this explains, as well the historical outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It was all to set our lives in order in the sight of God. Let us then, as individuals, make Christ Lord of all. Let each of us honour Him as our great abiding priority and all subsequent things will slip quietly and easily into their right and ordered place. This may require some sincere and humble confessions before God of our earlier sins and follies and a new placing of our whole heart’s trust in Christ for mercy and salvation, but divine blessing and true order will surely follow. We shall thus discover for ourselves that the wisest tenet in this whole vast science of priorities is that which is stated in the first and prior sentence of the Bible: “In the beginning, God…”!