If I were to ask you to list your number one priority in life, I have no doubt everyone would put God at the top of the list. But, if we were to step back and honestly ask ourselves: ‘What is the reality of our relationship with God’? I suspect that, for most of us, the truth would be hard to swallow. Is God really our number one priority?
What Comes First?
If we treasured our relationship with God and really lived like He was our number one, what would that look like? The minute we got up in the morning, we’d be desperate to see what He had to say in His Word. We would want to pray without ceasing, rejoicing that, in Christ, we can come into the presence of God anytime we want. We would always trust, and never doubt. We’d gladly obey what God says, and we would display Him in the way that we talked and interacted with the world, our family, and other Christians (to say the least).
Instead, the reality is a big mind-shift. When we wake up, all too often we are desperate to see what everyone has said on Facebook, who said what about our comment on Twitter, how many people liked and viewed our Instagram post. We check our emails and respond to the texts or Snapchats we’ve had through the night.
Sadly, it may take the first crisis of the day to make us think about prayer—something forcing us to cry out for God’s help. Our interactions with people, our kids, and our spouses can be frazzled and heated (and I haven’t even mentioned our thought life!). There are times we just want to survive the day in one piece, without one of the kids getting hurt or snapping at our husband. Truthfully, we dare not reflect on how we should be behaving because we know we fall desperately short.
Life is busy. We’re constantly doing something—taking the kids somewhere, meeting up for one-to-ones, going shopping, going to doctors’ appointments, cooking, cleaning, studying, essay writing, talk preparing . . . the list is endless. There always seems to be something getting in the way of spending time with God.
So how can we practically make God the priority in our life? How can we guard our relationship with Him? Consider these simple things.
Working on Your Relationship
Do we spend time getting to know, understand, and become intimate with God? It’s so easy for us to make excuses for not spending time with God but, the harsh truth is, we always make time for what we want to do. Now, we could come up with a bunch of legitimate excuses to justify ourselves, but the harsh reality is that everyone has enough time to spend some of the daily allotted 1,440 minutes with God. We never miss our dinner, but we miss out on the most important spiritual meal. We need to plan, be disciplined, have a desire to be focused, and make the necessary sacrifices. It’s not easy, but all of us can do this:
- Plan—Things like this just don’t ‘happen’ by themselves. You need to carve out the time and make it happen. There were times in my life when the only place I got peace and quiet was in the bath, so I did my quiet time there.
- Be Disciplined—Sticking to the plan is the hardest bit—life gets in the way or we are being lazy butts. Every single time I’ve been in a one-to-one and they are having a serious melt down, I can guarantee they have stopped spending time with God.
- Desire—If we are being honest, sometimes we just can’t be bothered or we feel like we are just going through the motions. We need to pray that the Lord will kindle that desire within us.
- Focus—Find the right atmosphere. No interruptions, no phone, no distractions.
- Sacrifice—Something has to give. For some, it will be less watching telly, less time on the internet, or dropping a gym class. For others, it’s getting to bed early so you can get up early. When my kids were young, being a single mum, the only space I could find in my day to spend with God was first thing in the morning before the kids got up. I had to sacrifice my late nights to make sure I could get up an hour before the kids.
The personal relationship we have with the Lord has an impact on us. We receive many things from Him, and one of them is His wisdom. He must be the source of our wisdom. Without God, we are fools. It’s as simple as that. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” (Psalm 14:1) Without God, we would all be fools. The fool replaces God for other things. But God helps us to speak well and wisely to ourselves and others. We need to lean on Him, trust Him, and listen to His word. Wisdom means not relying on ourselves, but God.
“The key to wisdom is not knowing everything God knows… The key to wisdom is, rather, an active, practical, functional reliance on Christ. Wise people take their reliance on Christ to everything they do: work, marriage, and their understanding of their own identity.”Paul Tripp, Wisdom in Counselling (10)
Ecclesiastes 7:12b “. . . wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.”
We need God’s wisdom to enable us to see clearly the way to guard our hearts. Without Him, we are and will always remain fools who are self-reliant and not Christ-reliant.
Making good choices
A question worth asking is: What’s influencing us?
Proverbs 4:24–25 “Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
It’s not a mistake that Proverbs 4:24–25 brings attention to the eyes and mouth. One feeds our heart and the other reveals our heart. What we watch, read, and pay attention to feeds our hearts, and the perverse talk, gossip, anger, and slander coming out of our mouths reveals what’s ruling our hearts.
It is so important for us to recognize our own hearts, being honest about what’s ruling them. Not to make us feel bad about being sucky Christians and beating ourselves up for yet again missing the mark, but so that we can be vigilant for our weaknesses, our sin, and that we might take action. We guard our hearts by being vigilant—flee the sin and run to God.
Proverbs 4:26–27 “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
The Right Path
Proverbs 4 reminds me a lot of Psalm 1. We see two paths clearly. The godly, straight-and-narrow path, and the path of wickedness leading down the road of destruction. There isn’t an ‘in-between’ detour or ‘skirting round the edge’ bypass. We guard our hearts and relationship with God by making sure we are on the right path. This isn’t passive inaction. Proverbs is saying engage your brain, carefully think about what you are doing, be deliberate where you step. No matter what we want to tell ourselves, we don’t stray from the path by accident.
I’m not known for being a big Piper fan, but I want to end with a Piper quote.
“It’s true — gloriously true — that none of God’s people, before or after the cross, would be accepted by an immaculately holy God if the perfect righteousness of Christ were not imputed to us (Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 1:30: 2 Corinthians 5:21). That is true! But that does not mean God does not produce in those very “justified” people an experiential righteousness that is not a “polluted garment” — even though it is not yet perfected.”(John Piper. Dirty Rags No More).
We guard our relationship with God by guarding our hearts. Our hearts can drive us to God or away from Him. Remember grace to keep on keeping on!
This is an excerpt from our new course: Titus 2 Women’s Ministry. If you’d like to sign up for the course, click the image below.