Written By Jeremy Larson, USA
[Read Part One here]
“Many, through wishing to be great, have failed to be good.” —Charles Spurgeon
Ambition, goal setting, and practical use of our time are good things, but we shouldn’t develop tunnel vision and lose sight of others in the process.
There’s a well-known story of a seminary that secretly conducted a good Samaritan test. The students were instructed to prepare a sermon on the good Samaritan parable and were given a scheduled time to preach their prepared sermons. When they showed up to give the sermon, the students were told it was to be at the adjacent building and given various levels of urgency. Some were urged that they were already running late, some that they were late but it was alright, and others that they still had a few minutes. A man was staged to be slumped over (whether he was drunk, beaten, or ill was unknown) along the connecting pathway.
So what do you suppose the results were? Not very flattering. Only 40 percent offered the man help, the majority of which comprised those who were not in a hurry. Talk about irony. I can imagine their embarrassment after being informed of the test results. These were seminary students, tested while preparing a sermon on the very thing. But in all honesty, none of us can judge them, as we are all guilty of such things. Often, we are caught up with completing our own assignment, we lose sight of others in the process.
It is interesting to note too that Christian bookshelves are loaded with instructions on achievement, greatness and lofty aspirations. Reading between the lines, the message is starting to sound like “build the kingdom of God by building your own life first.” With books encouraging us to seek greatness and our God-given dreams, we have a tendency to take that and run with it.
Pursuing big dreams for God’s kingdom is important, and the best use of one’s life. However to do this solely is like adding, whereas helping others to achieve their dreams is multiplying. In Amish society, when one person needs a new barn, the whole community comes to help. They wind up building it in a matter of days. Think of how long it would take to do it yourself! In this way, everyone achieves more, both individually and as a whole.
Basically, the point can be summed up by what Einstein has said: “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
Ask yourself, Will doing this thing bring you closer to God, or further away? Likewise will it bring others closer to or further from God?
Jesus said by loving God with all our hearts, souls and minds, and by loving our neighbors as ourselves, we automatically fulfill the rest of Scripture. How simple, yet we end up complicating the matter way too much. It often leads us to major on the minors, and minor on the majors in life.
I think part of the reason we neglect these commands to love is we fail to see what a life like that actually looks like. Basically, if we can’t or don’t envision it, we can’t emulate it. So what does it look like?
A while ago the answer randomly popped into my mind, “Seek the Lord with all your heart, and help your neighbors with all your strength.” These two things are the bottom line, the original way to love God and others. We all know we were created to have a relationship with God. So while everything else becomes obsolete in heaven, our relationship with Him won’t. Likewise our earthly purpose is the great commission. Everything besides these two things are only details, and will either enhance or hinder our primary calling to love.
It’s important to remember, that God comes first, not only before us, but other people as well. Sometimes we get it backwards, and basically love others before God. That’s essentially what happens when we get so caught up in church activities or “serving God” that we forget that He has it all under control. Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias once said, “Many Christians have so busied themselves with programs and activities that they no longer know how to be silent and meditate on God’s word or recognize the mysteries that are in the Person of Christ.”
I used to wonder why God commanded us to love Him. It sounds odd, doesn’t it? Like something out of a mafia movie “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.” One day when I was asking the Lord about this, it dawned on me that this was His way of expressing His priorities and stating just how important it is. In other words, we can do everything else, but it’s all in vain if we don’t get the first priority right.
God desire to draw us higher and closer to Himself. Not only is this how we bring God the greatest pleasure and satisfaction with our life, but it is also how we grow in wisdom, grace, love, peace, joy, and godliness as well as enjoy lasting, fruitful success in life. When we put the Lord first, everything else will fall into place.