Theme of the Week: Setting Family Rhythms
Bible Verse: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matthew 23:23
Scripture Reading: Matthew 23:16-26
Never-ending to-do lists. It’s just a reality of life. We are never done doing. But one of the ironies of a to-do list is that though they help us see things that need to be done, sometimes they can inadvertently mix up priorities. Have you ever had that happen? When you are trying to be thorough in identifying what needs to get done, you end up focusing on the wrong thing, just because it’s on the list? I have. And my wife smiles and asks why I think that needs to be done right now.
One of the ways we can keep a rhythm going is to make a list of all thing things vying for our attention and effort. What’s the most important thing in your week? How do you know? How do you set priorities? On the long list of good things that you need or want to accomplish, how do you identify the best, and rank the rest?
Sometimes I think the Pharisees get a bad rap. They screwed up plenty, but I think in some instances they were really trying, they just got it wrong.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has a whole list of criticisms for them. Among them is that they didn’t have their priorities right. They practiced some areas of the law. They were offering their tithe (there might be another challenge there for many of us), but they weren’t practicing what Jesus called the more important matters—justice, mercy, and faithfulness (see Matthew 23:23).
It’s that category of “more important” that signals something. Jesus didn’t tell them they were doing the wrong things. He told the Pharisees they were missing things. He told them they should be doing the bigger things and the “less important” things (again, probably something for some of us to hear). By calling justice, mercy, and faithfulness “the more important” things, he signaled their priority.
Jesus doesn’t clarify why they are more important. But knowing that Jesus said the two great commandments are loving God and neighbor, it’s a safe bet to suggest that these three things fall into those categories more significantly than tithing (but again, Jesus said to do both!).
As we look at setting priorities for our to-do lists, we might need to ask a hard question, “which things on my list exemplify loving God and loving neighbor (neighbor here includes family)?”
A clear list that recognizes priority tasks can help us keep a rhythm that not only feels good, but does good.
Prayer: Jesus, There are so many things to get distracted by. Even being productive with “good” things can get in the way. Help me not just recognize priorities, but to put in the effort to get them done, as well as the lighter matters.
Reflection: How can you take an objective look at the items on your to-do list? What questions, even hard questions, do you need to ask about the way the tasks are arranged or how you tackle them?
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