Essence v Clutter

What you do today will be determined by how you define two lists.  There are only two lists, and your view of each of them determines what you are doing right now.

There is a list of things that matter.  There is a list of things that don’t matter.  There is not a third list.

A few years ago I was discussing with one of my friends the relative length of those two lists.  We decided that the list of things that don’t matter is by far the longest.  We decided that most things in this life are on the list of things that don’t matter.  There are relatively few things that really matter.

Another thing: passion.  It seems that a lot of the things we are really passionate /excited about are on the longer list – the list of things that don’t matter.  Here’s an example: Alabama football (or Auburn, or UT, or whoever – or even high school – I was really into that when my boys played).  Three in my family went to Alabama, so I’ll pick them (they are also geographically closer – about 50 miles).  How excited do you get about your favorite football team?  How much money do you spend on that passion?  How much time?  See what I mean?

Also:  people tend to confuse the lists.  We tend to put things from the list of things that don’t matter on the list of things that do matter.  We confuse ourselves when we do that.  We confuse others about who we are when we do that.  We mess up our lives when we do that.  We can ruin our lives by doing that.

Another way of looking at the confusion: we often are deeply interested in things of questionable importance, while at the same time showing only a causal interest in things that will be important in eternity.  When we die and pass into eternity, we just won’t care how many championships Alabama (or whoever) won, or if they won any at all.  It won’t matter then.  So, why do we get so upset about these temporary things (it doesn’t have to be football) now, when before long, we won’t care?  We could remove ball and plug in politics, business, how we look, or some other sacred cow – and the answer would be the same.

The essence of life, what really matters, the short list – is fearing God and keeping His commandments.  We are all familiar with Ecclesiastes 12:13, which says just that.  Here’s another “essence” passage from the Old Testament:

Micah 6:8 NKJV 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

If you want a New Testament one, start with the Beatitudes.  They’re in the first few verses of Matthew 5.

Here’s a suggestion.  If you will do this, I think you’ll be a better person.  I think you will have more friends and fewer enemies.  I think you’ll like yourself better.  I think people will tend to listen to you and respect you more.

Show as much passion for justice as you do for sports.  Justice starts with how you treat your neighbor.  It doesn’t start with what’s happening a thousand miles, or ten thousand miles, away – it starts with you.

Look for opportunities to show mercy – and then deliver.  You aren’t trying to find other good people right now.  It’s easy to be nice to them.  You might even get something back for it.  They will likely return the favor.  You are looking for someone undeserving – someone who needs mercy – and you’re going to help them.  Weren’t there some Bible verses about Jesus coming to save sinners (the undeserving), to look for the lost (the undeserving)?  I think those are in there.

Try real hard to actually be humble.  I know it’s hard, but try.  Read about Jesus.  Then, look in the mirror and see if your life looks like His.  Pray about it.  But be careful how you pray.  Sometimes God’s lessons in humility are unpleasant.  I know from experience.  Just saying….  I have found it better to go ahead and believe what He says, than to try and force His hand and cause Him to teach you through experience.

You have two lists in your head.  They show in your life.  What is on your short list and how much energy do you spend on those things?

One Response to “Essence v Clutter”

  1. Scott McCown Says:

    John, Glad to find you again. I will add you to the blogroll and delete your old blog 🙂 Scott

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