Deciding What’s Important in Life – Part 1
The 1995 movie “Braveheart” was a great film, and in one scene William Wallace faces execution for treason because of his fight for Scottish independence against the English king. The night before his execution, his friends begged him to recant his position so he could be spared his life or at least die more mercifully. His reply was “all men die. but not all men truly live”. Now there’s a quote worth remembering. Quite profound I think. Perhaps I could paraphrase another line ..”to live or not to live – that’s the question”.
We do not know how long life will last, so can I ask myself these questions .. why am I here? What is really important to me? What am I good at? What do I need to learn to live a fulfilling life? You didn’t choose to be born, and you get no choice in when you die. But you do choose whether or not to live. So how do I decide what’s important and what’s not? Is it family, friends, health, hobbies, believing in yourself, happiness, being passionate about an issue …or is it having certain values.
We don’t realize how much our values really do affect our lives – but they do. They control everything in our life. In the first place our values affect our stress. When our values are unclear, we get confused. When our values are in conflict, it’s called a dilemma. Either way, we produce unnecessary stress in our lives if we haven’t clarified what’s important and what’s not important. It causes stress.
When our values are lasting values, lasting success is built on values that last. What we think is important in life not only affects our stress, it also affects our success. It was Jesus who said that it is possible to be outwardly successful – financially, socially and every other way – and be spiritually bankrupt on the inside. He said, “What does it profit you if you gain the whole world and lose your soul?”
It’s pretty obvious I need to decide where I’m going to get my values. .. the source of my values will determine the quality of them. Where do we get our values? We get them from a lot of places. We pick them up from our parents. We pick them up from our peers.. magazines and books we read, from the music we listen to. We pick them up from society in general. Today, one of the ways we pick up our values is through the media. The media is the number one purveyor of values today. Especially television …. But living for Jesus Christ introduces another set of values and culture. And there is a big difference ..
If you ask most people, “What do you want out of life?” They’ll say, “I want to have fun…. I want to be happy … I want to feel good.” That’s different ways of saying pleasure. We spend more money on entertainment (on the entertainment industry) than almost anything else. We’re a pleasure-obsessed culture. We love to show off our possessions. We are consumed with consuming and we’re very conspicuous about our consumption. We show off our clothes, our cars and our homes and our jewellery. We want everybody to see what we’ve got. We collect things and amass things and buy things we don’t need but we keep buying. We base our self-worth on our net worth.
In our community, have you noticed that image is everything ? We’re very status conscious. In fact, we create symbols so that we can let people know where we are in the pecking order. We want people to look up to us .. to think we’re important and successful and we have value. We’re very status conscious. A lot of the advertisements today appeal to this kind of snob appeal The problem is this: the media so bombards us with these values – pleasure, possession, prestige – over and over that even Christians get seduced by it. We buy into it. We think like everybody else that those are the ultimate values of life
The apostle Paul in Romans 12 says “Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” If you buy into the world’s value system – – you will miss God’s purpose for your life. .. you will have no time to fill the reason you were created for this world in the first place. You’ll miss God’s purpose.