What is the most important thing to you in your life? Seriously, what is it that you desire more than anything else? What is so important to you that you would pay any price to get it? You would be willing to sacrifice, suffer, to lose sleep, to impose upon yourself the greatest amount of self-discipline to pursue and gain it for yourself? What is so important to you that you would be willing to reorder everything in your life to gain what you seek?
Your answer to this question is the most telling thing about you. The answer to this question will reveal to you what the priorities of your life should be, why you and I do what we do, why we endure what we endure, why we respond and react to life as we do. There is nothing more important than your most important thing.
As a Christian father and husband, or a Christian wife and mother, it is the answer to this question that shapes you, drives you, and urges you on, to endure the inevitable challenges, hardships, and death to self that being a Christian spouse and a parent most certainly will involve.
Your answer may not be what you think. You may have forgotten what your life was meant to be all about. When we forget what our life is all about, what God wants our life to be all about, we become very self-centered, we become like a parasite sucking the life out of everything around us. We cling to the things we think will give us life, and we neglect the very thing, the only thing that gives us true life, true meaning, true fulfillment, and true purpose.
When I was 19, in December of 1975, God in His great mercy revealed to me the most important thing. It forever changed me. It caused me to completely rearrange my life, my desires, my pursuits, my dreams, my ambitions, and my choices. It completely altered my way of life and my lifestyle. It has still to this very day. This most important thing brought a zeal, a discipline and a purpose to my life that had never existed before, which has only increased and continued burning in me to this day. It has fueled my spiritual fire all of these years.
What is the most important thing?
To know Jesus Christ, to be like Jesus Christ, to reveal Jesus Christ to others through my Christ-like life. I cannot overstate to you how incredibly important this is. It. Is. Everything! This was the driving force in the apostle Paul’s life! This has been my life’s passion and the central Bible truth of my heart for 44 years. I would like to share it with you today from the Amplified Bible.
Philippians 3:8-17, “But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him [believing and relying on Him], not having any righteousness of my own derived from [my obedience to] the Law and its rituals, but [possessing] that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; [a]so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on [b]so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. [c]Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained. Brothers and sisters, together with follow my example and observe those who live by the pattern we gave you.”
This truth, this vision, this passionate pursuit to know Jesus Christ and to be like Him, shapes our life, our obedience, and submission to hard things like no other. When God revealed this passage to me in 1975, it reshaped my whole life. It reshaped how I chose to live. It changed all my priorities and my values. I could now see clearly that no man can serve God and money. I could now see why, to the best of my ability, God called me to live as free from the distractions of this world as I could. I realized that the great love affair of my life was with Jesus Christ and my pursuit to know Him, to be like Him, and to reveal Him to others around me was my life’s central purpose. Nothing took hold of me more than this passage of scripture.
This brought a powerful simplicity to my life. This helped me do what others around me were not willing to do. This gave reason to my very existence. This gave divine purpose to all of my sufferings, my persecutions, my self-imposed discipline, my self-denial, my study and meditation on God’s Word, my passionate pursuit of God and my intentional and fervent prayer life spent in time alone with God. I realized all the trials of my life, the disciplines of my life, the sufferings of my life, the sacrifices I was making were all to know Jesus Christ in greater and deeper ways, of becoming more like Jesus Christ in my attitudes, my actions, and behaviors of my life. I understood that becoming a loving man like Jesus Christ was worth all the cost of self-denial. This is the reason I bear my cross still today!
This most important thing was my power! This would allow me to have an impact on my wife, my children, and my world that God intended for me to have. This was the man God wanted me to be, and my wife and children needed me to be.
Brothers, sisters, hear me now. Jesus had to submit to the Father in ways that cost him dearly. Has it ever dawned on you wives that your submission to your husbands in hard things makes you more like Jesus Christ who submitted to his Heavenly Father, though it cost Jesus his life? Has it ever dawned on you husbands that your submission to God, in becoming like Jesus Christ who submitted to His Heavenly Father, means laying down your life as Christ did for us, for the good of your wife and kids? That while laying your life down to care for them, you are becoming more Christ-like, you are entering into a deeper experience of knowing Jesus Christ, who laid his life down for his bride the church and sacrificed so much of Himself for her?
Let me ask you, in what ways does God want you to reorder your life? What are some ways you could simplify your life to be less distracted and have more time and focus to know the Lord Jesus in greater ways? What ways does your prayer life need to change? What ways does your thought life and meditations need to change? What attitudes does God want you to take on so that you have more of the attitude of Jesus Christ as Paul writes in Philippians 2:5? What rights does God want you to let go of in your pursuit to be more Christ-like? In what ways could you become a better servant to those you love as you imitate the servanthood of Jesus Christ?
When I began my spiritual journey 44 years ago, there were 2 songs that I listened to over and over again. They deeply imprinted this most important thing on my heart and soul. I would like to share them with you here today.
Even now, as I listened to the first song sitting at my desk writing this article, tears are pouring from my eyes at the depth of meaning to me in this song. I remember like yesterday walking back and forth in my trailer home with this song playing on the stereo, tears streaming down my face, as these men sang the words to this song that became the cry of my heart to God, the pursuit of my life, “More, more, I want to be more like Jesus.” O God, make me more like Jesus!
If you want to know what makes me tick, my great reason for living, please, please listen to these two songs.
This first one is called “More” by Mylon LeFevre.
The second equally powerful and important song is by John and Terry Talbot called “Create in Me/Paint my Life.”