When asked whether SPIRITUAL GROWTH is important to us, most of us would say "yes" without any hesitation. But SAYING that spiritual matters are important is easy -- whether that's actually TRUE is another matter.
I've long maintained that the real evidence of how important the Lord's work is to us is found in two places: (1) our checkbooks, and (2) our schedule books. Whatever we might say, our real values are indicated by how we spend our money and how we spend our time. In this post, I'm mainly concerned about our time.
Life is busy these days, and with each passing year it just gets busier. So we frequently face the dilemma that arises when TWO EVENTS ARE TRYING TO OCCUPY THE SAME SLOT IN OUR SCHEDULE BOOKS. When that happens, our true priorities are exhibited by the decision we make as to which event has to yield to the other.
Why is it that, when such choices have to be made, the Lord's work is always the thing that has to move out of the way? Why does the Lord's work always have to yield? Does the Lord only get a slot in our agenda when there is no other activity that wants that slot? If so, what that means is that the Lord only gets the leftovers of our time.
I am amazed at the number of times in gospel meetings that parents (sometimes even elders in the church) will come up to me and express regret that they were not able to be at the service the previous evening because their child had a basketball game, a soccer match, or a volleyball tournament.
"Well, we HAD to be there," the parents will say. "There was just no other way. To be absent would have been impossible." IMPOSSIBLE? No, what we mean is that it would have required A SACRIFICE BIGGER THAN WE WERE WILLING TO MAKE. And we show what is truly the most important to us by what we're willing to sacrifice for. If activities that relate to our spiritual growth are not important enough that we would make significant sacrifices for them, then we're lying if we say that those activities are our highest priority.
But friends, listen to me. THE BIGGER THE SACRIFICE THAT WE HAVE TO MAKE IN THE Lord'S WORK, THE MORE GOOD THAT COMES FROM MAKING IT!
So the next time you have to make a choice in regard to two events that are trying to occupy the same slot in your schedule book, ask yourself what is TRULY the most important to you. If a sacrifice is going to have to be made, which sacrifice is it going to be? If you've said that spiritual growth is important to you, but you would give priority to something so trivial as a sporting event, a school function, or a family vacation, then you've given all the evidence that anybody needs to know what matters to you the MOST.
It's time we got back in touch with the value of sacrifice -- both in our checkbooks and our schedule books. We're kidding no one but ourselves if we think we'd lay down our LIVES for the Lord but we won't sacrifice so much as a RECREATIONAL ACTIVITY for Him!