"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." Romans 8:5 ESV
Situations and circumstances can sway us away from what truly matters. In this life of constant noise and distraction, we can easily forget what the heart of this life is all about: Being conformed into the image of Christ, making disciples of men and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us to help others in Christ’s name. This life is not to be lived for earthly accolades and promotions; this life is to be lived for the One name where every knee will bow and tongue will confess that He is Lord: Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:10-11).
Let us take a brief look at Luke 10:38-42 (ESV), where Jesus responds to a woman who is focused on that which does not last; nor that which is the primary focus:
“ Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.””
How many of us are so busy working for the Lord, that we forget to spend time with the Lord? I am sure it grieves God’s heart to constantly have work dedicated to Him (which is great), but to never be heard or talked to in quiet fellowship alone in prayer. We go through five minute devotionals and believe that we have paid our dues for the day. Would a five minute conversation each day get by with your spouse/family? Circumstances do occur where this happens; but it most certainly would not work if it were a lifestyle. God wants to hear from us, as well as speak to us. We must set our hearts on engaging Him in quiet prayer.
We must not allow our focus to be upon the work that is done (just as Martha was doing), but rather to be focused upon the person we are becoming. There are many Christians striving in the flesh to fill a void that only Christ can fill. Again, work and service for the Lord has its proper place, but the importance of spending time alone with God is crucial in the day in which we live. God would rather spend time with us and prepare us for our day ahead, rather than have us neglect Him and toil in our own strength to be a busy-body for the service at hand.
Ministry can become an idol. We can get so focused on the numbers of our church, the amount of books we write, the amount of people we can help within a business; that we forget to simply go to the prayer closet and say, “Lord, what is Your will for my life? What is that which will last an eternity?” God forbid we toil towards that which will only burn on God’s holy altar come Judgment Day.
Let us always work hard for the Lord, but let us make sure that we are seeking His perfect will. Let us remember the importance of going to Him before we start our day; and let us remember to have Him be the end of each day. I love Martin Luther’s quote when he says, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Many of us look at the length and width of our “to-do” list and believe it's what must be done first; yet, however, this is backwards. I believe the man or woman who spends one hour alone with the Lord and seven hours in their work is much more effective than the man or woman who spends sixteen hours in their work and ends their day with a thirty second prayer.
Our struggle is that we lack faith in the One Who knows all, sees all, Is all and can do all. The times I have gone to the prayer room to access the strength and wisdom from God have never been regretted. When we allow the Holy Spirit to override our broken vessels, He can do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV). May our hearts and minds forever say, "To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21 NKJV).