The founder of McDonald’s, Ray Kroc, was asked by a reporter about his order of priorities. “I believe in God, my family and McDonald’s,” he said. Then he added, “When I get to the office, I reverse the order.” At least give him credit for being honest!
What are your priorities? What would you say is your number one priority? And what should be your top priority? To help you discover this priority, let me ask another question: What is THE most valuable possession you have?
It’s not your life or your health. After all, you could live to be 110 years old and not know how to live your life and therefore not be prepared for death.
It’s not your money, no matter how much you have. You can be a billionaire and not have a clue how to prioritize your life.
It’s not family, as important as family relationships are.
It’s not even salvation. There is actually something more valuable than salvation, because without it, we wouldn’t know how to experience salvation.
It’s the Word of God! It’s divine truth. It’s God’s self-revelation.
So, if divine truth is the most important possession we have, then our number one priority must be…[drum roll]…hearing and heeding the Word of God!
In Luke 10:38-42 we have two sisters, Mary and Martha, with conflicting priorities. With regard to hearing and heeding the Word, Mary gets it. Martha doesn’t. Mary is at Jesus’ feet listening to His every word (39, 42). Martha is distracted by lesser things (40a) and troubled about many things (41). And that’s the problem for many believers: We are distracted by lesser things and burdened by things that have no eternal value (e.g. ballgames, social media, TV, politics, working, making money, etc.). These things are not inherently wrong, but they often receive more prioritized time and attention than they deserve.
Like Mary, we need to be proactive (39, “Mary sat at the Lord’s feet”), and faithfully position ourselves under solid biblical preaching and teaching. We need to be proactive and faithfully study the Word on our own, having a daily time for personal worship.
Like Mary, we need to be receptive (39, “and listened to His teaching”). It’s not enough to hear the Word. We must heed the Word (Luke 6:46–47; 8:20–21; James 1:22).
How to hear and heed the Word on your own:
(1) Aim for consistency. Start simply and realistically. Try studying the Bible for at least 15 minutes a day, and then work your way up. If you miss a day or two, ask for forgiveness and start back. Don’t let Satan beat you up and keep you down and out of the Word.
(2) Ask for help (from God; He wrote it!). Before your read and as you read, ask the Lord to give you understanding, to illuminate your mind, to open your eyes so that you might see glorious truths and discover life-changing principles.
(3) Use a good Study Bible. My personal recommendations are The ESV Study Bible and The MacArthur Study Bible (available in ESV, NKJV, and NASB).
(4) Start with the New Testament (and Psalms & Proverbs). You may want to start with a shorter NT Book such as James, Philippians, or 1 John. Or if you want to study the life of Jesus, try the Gospel of John. Reading and studying Psalms and Proverbs will stir your soul, comfort your heart, and increase your wisdom.
(5) Keep a notebook (to write your observations). Is there a command to obey? A sin to confess? A promise to claim? A question to ask? A verse to memorize? Then write it down and act accordingly.
(6) Pray the passage. For example, if you were praying over Luke 10:38-42, you might pray something like, “Lord Jesus, help me to remove all distractions from my life that are hindering me from hearing and heeding the Word. Help me, Lord, to possess a desire to hear and obey You like Mary had. Lord, I confess my negligence in studying and meditating upon the Word like I should and ask for Your forgiveness.”
(7) Think long-term. Your aim: Gradual conformity to Jesus by renewing your mind with the Word of God (Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:16). Salvation is instantaneous. Spiritual growth and maturity take years to develop (and is never fully obtained).
Why not re-prioritize your life starting right now? Make hearing and heeding the Word of God you top priority!