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A shelf vs. a closet?

 So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. (2 Peter 1:5-9)

Have you ever frittered away a day, only to find at the end of the day you didn't accomplish as much as you set out to accomplish? There have been days when my list was so long and my accomplishments so few - leaving me with an even bigger list the next day. Early on in my career I learned to do something called 'prioritizing my goals'. I had work that required my immediate attention (like completing the timecards so everyone got paid); some that needed my attention as soon as time allowed (like updating a monthly report); and other things that needed to be done, but had a less 'strict' deadline (like cleaning out old files from the file cabinet I didn't need any longer). What was the advantage of learning to assign a priority to the things on my list? I got the stuff done first that was most urgent which left me free to pursue the less urgent and sometimes more time-consuming things in time.

God isn't much different in how he approaches the things we need to accomplish in our lives. He sets priorities of what should be the most important and these actually prepare us for being ready to allow the accomplishment of the things that may take just a little more time. The first priority God established for each of us was to put him first - first in our day, first in our time, first in our finances, first in our family, and the list can go on. The important thing is that he gets first 'dibs' on our time, talent, and treasures. The rest of the stuff follows. If you are anything like me, you might have tried to focus on some of the other stuff first, leaving God out of the picture until a little later down the road, then wondered why you were frustrated with the results. I got the cart before the horse - God first - the rest follows.

Even when you look at how God 'grows us up' in our faith-walk, it requires prioritizing some things over others. Our faith is 'built upon' - that means there is a foundation first. We come to know grace because we draw near enough to him on a frequent basis and the appreciation of grace becomes ingrained into our every action. We learn good character at the feet of Jesus and that character is built upon as we take in the Word and learn from the examples within those pages. We incorporate the lessons of the best examples, understanding the results of bad choices from those with a little less 'honorable' character. If our character isn't impacted by grace, our discipline will wane. We won't care about others because grace puts others first.

We might want all the growth at one time, but we have often explored just how hard that would be. If you have ever decided you wanted to clean your closets and then pulled things from this corner and that, making pile upon pile of things that need a 'place' somewhere other than the closet you were cleaning, you know how much of a mess doing all this at one time can produce. You started with one closet, but needing to put all the other stuff you found into their right spot means you likely will find things in those spots that require removal and relocation, as well. Before long, the piles are big and you realize you are in for a long, long cleaning day! One shelf may be more realistic - don't tackle the whole closet at one time! Just sayin!

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