The Most Important Life Pursuits
(Post 1 of 5)

Photo of Stephen De La Vega standing next to the spines of books that are larger than life. Most prominent book is title "Life."


I’ve been a Christian for 40 years and I was not always productive. I put time and resources into things that were not that important. I should’ve spent my days on more worthwhile endeavors…for life on this earth and for all eternity. Much is worthwhile, but I'm sharing my short list - those things that demand our attention, our very best efforts, and our most costly sacrifices (1 Corinthians 10:23).

Don’t be like me. Pay attention to these things now.


What follows are endeavors I consider to be critically important. In subsequent posts, I’ll offer more detail. For now, we’ll stay high level because I don’t want us to miss the forest for the trees. Let’s spend time considering what’s important to us and whether it’s also important to God.

Here are four endeavors I call “life pursuits” that matter more than most other pursuits.


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Life Pursuit 1: Recognize that everyone is valuable

Deep down, we know everyone has value, but do we believe it and live it? Honestly speaking, there are people I don’t value. That’s a problem. How about you? Maybe there are entire groups we don’t value. (See my post called Do We Appreciate the Many Colors?)

Jesus came for all people. He suffered and died for all people. All are valuable to Him. (See John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:14, 1 Timothy 2:6, 1 Timothy 4:10, and 2 Corinthians 5:14.)

Do we see others as those whom Jesus loves and for whom He died, or have we been desensitized of the value of life? Do people see compassion in our words and actions? Do they see it in our eyes? Do they find grace and forgiveness in our demeanor?

Do we value people? Do we really believe our own message – the gospel of Jesus that we proclaim?

Let’s ask ourselves:

  • When we disagree with others, do we discount their opinions and perspectives, or do we seek to understand them? We may not understand as much as we think we do.

  • Do we speak God’s truth with sensitivity and compassion – with a measure of sweetness, so as not to sour the discussion?

  • When it comes to obeying God, do we consider doing so in ways that don’t make people feel uncomfortable? (Making people feel uncomfortable is not always a bad thing, but maybe we can make productive adjustments while also maintaining our honor toward God.)

  • Do we forego our preferences or routines so that others may benefit? (E.g., do we wear masks and socially distance ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic?)


Life Pursuit 2: Be less adamant

It is impossible to fully understand God and His truth (Romans 11:33-37 and Isaiah 55:8-9). We know this. We know we cannot compare to God. We know He transcends us in every way (Isaiah 40:12-26).

But many of us try to wedge our ‘beliefs’ into the hearts of those in our circles and even those we’ve never met. We might push our beliefs so belligerently that we cause arguments, division, hatred, violence, or worse…and we might even enjoy it.

What if we’re wrong? What if we misinterpreted some of the details? Or are we forcing our opinions and preferences on others without even comparing our ideologies with God’s Word?

Though some of us are exceptional scholars, we simply cannot know and understand everything. I believe this wholeheartedly, so much so, that I wonder if I am representing God’s Word correctly every time I lead a Bible study or publish a blog post or book. I try my best to understand and teach God’s Word, but I know my understanding is faulty (a.k.a., human). This is a healthy approach.

Why do we express our beliefs and opinions so strongly? Is it for the benefit of others? Does it represent and glorify our God?

I imagine someday after I see Jesus face-to-face, that I will look back at all I have written in His name and recognize much that I misunderstood. May we teach, lead, and encourage others with humility, because we don’t understand all of God’s Word and His ways. We just don’t.


Life Pursuit 3: Align with God

God sent His only Son to pay the penalty of our sins and sinfulness. Jesus took the fall for us and we look forward to eternity with Him. God did this and so much more for us, so shouldn’t we value and cultivate our relationship with Him? Shouldn’t we walk alongside Him, hand in hand, and let Him lead us into life?

If we have not been studying God’s Word, the Bible, to understand more about Him and what He cares about, we are not aligned with Him. For we are naturally sinful and self-absorbed. Jesus said our flesh is weak, despite how earnest we may feel in our hearts (Matthew 26:41). And Paul explained that without Jesus and God’s Word, he would not have chosen to do what is right. His sinful nature is just too overwhelming. (See Romans 7:18-25.)

We need God’s Word to permeate our heads and our hearts, and we need to ruminate over it in prayer and in song. We need to listen to it, repeat it, and fellowship around it. This is how we put off our own desires and become the people God planned for us to become. (See 1 Peter 2:1-3, Colossians 3:1-17, and Ephesians 2:1-10.)

Jesus was always right when He spoke on earth because He didn’t try to please Himself. He was in sync with God (John 5:30). Is the same true for us?

Is it true of our values? Our viewpoints? Our politics? Our parenting? Our worship? Our preaching and teaching? Our standards? Our level of commitment? Our sacrifice?

Or do we prefer to fit God’s truth into our own ideas?

God’s truth doesn’t change from situation to situation, and it doesn’t shift with trending tides. It is always true – all the time, around every circumstance. Let’s assume we are often wrong and self-serving and seek His truth, not rationalize our own opinions and preferences.


Life Pursuit 4: Don’t delay to trust Jesus as Savior

Life and livelihood are fragile (1 Peter 1:24-25). I write this not to scare us, but to offer perspective. Many lives have ended, as we say, “prematurely.” Still others ended “suddenly” or “unexpectedly.” Some have taken a turn for the worst and are bed-ridden or have trouble formulating and expressing thoughts. Things get cloudy. Jesus came to save us and the dear ones in our lives, but only some have trusted Him as their gateway to God and Heaven (John 10:9).

When I was 8 years young, I said in my heart that ‘I would get saved later, when I’m older and have less to do.’ What a funny thought for a kid, but sobering when we consider we get busier with age. That day would never have come for me if it weren’t for the grace of God straightening my path and hand picking my friendships that led me back to church as a high schooler. That’s when I acknowledged Jesus as my Savior.

Maybe this is you, too. Something is holding you back, yet you notice your life path somehow pointing you to God. Or you have conversations that turn your heart to an undeniable truth. Maybe you read things “by chance” that direct your attention to the reality that life is precious and Jesus is waiting for you.

Don’t delay.

Jesus came and died for you. He is our bridge to an everlasting relationship with God in Heaven.

[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind,
the man Christ Jesus,
 who gave himself as a ransom for all people…

1 Timothy 2:4-6

Here is the logical truth:

  1. None of us are righteous and we fall short of God’s standard (Romans 3:32).

  2. Our sin is punishable by death (Romans 6:23).

  3. God's Son Jesus satisfied the penalty of our sins by giving His life in place of ours (Romans 5:8).

  4. Jesus rose from His grave and defeated death (John 11:25).

  5. Jesus is Lord of all and Lord of our lives (Romans 14:8-9).


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17

 

You can read more posts about the good news of Jesus here.

To which of these 4 life pursuits do you need to pay more attention? What would you add to this list? Please take the time to share your thoughts in the Comments.

 

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If you have questions about Jesus, the bridge to God and Heaven, please email me at authordlv@att.net. He came for us.

Read more blog posts here.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Comments

  1. Thank you for this special message. I found encouragement and inspiration. I am thankful to be a child of God.

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    1. I'm glad this encouraged you, Melissa. Jesus gives us the means to be gracious, understanding, and humble.

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  2. This is SO GOOD, and these four things are so very much in line with my own "most important life pursuits"! Thank you, Stephen.

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    1. Thank you, Jessica. All of these are about people over ourselves. When we look at others with compassion, these things fall into place.

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  3. You have share some very important truths that are often overlooked in our zeal to influence the world around us. Thank you.

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    1. Yes, Janice. Maybe we don't even influence the world (positively) if we don't come to grips with these life pursuits. May God use us by changing our hearts.

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  4. I really love this list of life pursuits. I know I get too caught up sometimes in the non essentials. Great blog, Stephen!

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    1. Thank you, Candice. We have to spend time on other things, too, but I hope we can help others by considering them more and more and keeping the most important things in sight.

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  5. Great blog! Beautifully shared knowledge and insight. You have shared some very important truths along with the gospel truth that would cause one to stop and inspect their life. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you! The gospel truth is surely the most important and the foundation for any other God-honoring pursuit. I pray that we can be proper image-bearers of God and the good news of His Son.

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  6. These are excellent points and life pursuits, Stephen! How we value others and how humbly and yet desperately we seek to follow God by reading His Word are the things that authenticate our faith. Jesus saves sinners, by grace, through faith. But our faith needs to be reflected in our pursuit to know God through the Bible, through humility and through the way we value HIs image bearers. Powerful truth.

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    1. I love your point about authentic faith, Melissa. How we live and interact with others reflects our relationship with God and His truth. Valuing others, humility, spending time in God's Word, obeying His Word, walking in faith - all of these matter and demonstrate our sincere effort to please God. Thank you for adding your thoughts.

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  7. Great points Stephen. Sometimes, we are blinded by our own thoughts and interpretations of the Bible. I saw this often when on mission trips as some thought Americans understand things more than other cultures which was wrong. But, we also must be careful not to water down the message of the Bible just to make others comfortable. We can soften the way we present the information but not the message itself. Thanks for getting me thinking

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    1. Must be eye-opening to see the difference between Americans and those you serve on mission trips. I imagine there are lots of assumptions and misunderstandings. We definitely don't want to alter our message by watering down God's truth. That would be counter-productive. But we probably can have a more considerate and respectful approach. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  8. Like you, Stephen, it's taken me forty years to learn some of these lessons. Maybe it just takes maturity and life experience as we walk with God?

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    1. Thank you for saying so, Linda. Like I wrote above, God's ways transcend ours and I think you're right. It takes a while to develop our understanding and especially a heart that cares about the things God cares about. I'm thankful for God's patience and that He continues to nurture us.

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  9. What a superb post, Stephen. The headings you've chosen as primary points and necessary to the Christian life are so powerful! Everyone IS indeed valuable. The world would be more peaceful if we were all less adamant about our positions. When we align with God, approaching others with the kindness and sweetness you mention, others around us are impacted for good. Our lives become a blessing. Trusting the Savior in every issue, not only salvation, is essential. How often does he lead us to act or to do certain things and we don't act, waiting and waiting when the urging to act was for that moment? This post could be a handbook for the Christian life. I was challenged and greatly blessed by your words here, brother. Thank you! God bless you!

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    1. Thank you, Melinda. I love your point about trusting Jesus in every issue. I will probably expand that last point when I dig deeper in a later post. It's so easy to hesitate even when we know we are being prompted by the Holy Spirit to act. Salvation is critical for eternity, but for us who are already eternally secure, acting when prompted could make an eternal difference for others. Thank you for giving me more to think about.

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