What Is Your Chief Interest?
Is it worthy of the position you give it? What is the interest that should have first place in your life?
WHEN Judas Iscariot plotted with the chief priests of the Jewish nation to betray Jesus Christ into their hands for thirty pieces of silver, he showed by his actions that his chief interest was money. It meant more to him than loyalty to Christ and the approval of God, but it failed to bring him happiness and contentment. The few paltry silver pieces clinking in his hands were of small satisfaction for all he had lost by betraying his Lord. Conscience stricken, he threw the silver pieces into the temple and hanged himself. Too late he discovered that it was not worth while to make money his chief interest in life.
What is your attitude toward money? Are you making the same mistake Judas did by permitting it to be your center of interest? Do you avidly pursue it as if it were the all-important thing? Is it what you constantly talk about among your friends? Is being rich what you dream about and persistently scheme for? Are you like the wife of a rising company executive who said that her circle of friends worship money? Regarding her husband and the husbands of her friends she stated: “They’re on the make for money and prestige. And we wives worship the dollar. I don’t think it’s the success for our husbands or social prestige we want so much as the buck.”
Forewarning of the danger in giving too much importance to money, the apostle Paul said: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves over with many pains.” (1 Tim. 6:9, 10) That is what happened to Judas, and it can happen to you if you make money your chief interest in life.
Money cannot give life. It is not worthy of a man’s worship or of his undivided affection. The material things it can buy pass away with the using of them, and even the initial enjoyment they may bring gradually wears off. It is a mockery to spend a lifetime frantically pursuing riches that can bring no peace of mind or lasting benefits. It is like striving for the wind.
The average person has many interests, and money necessarily is one of them, but it should not be allowed to exceed those that are of greater importance. The interest a husband has in his wife and in his children deserves a higher position than his interest in money. Money cannot give him the warm affection and happiness that they can; yet some husbands become so wrapped up in money-making that they neglect their families. There is the case of a thirty-four-year-old businessman who was so absorbed in his business that he gave his wife very little of his time and virtually no consideration, tenderness and affection. He had made his business his chief interest, and it is not surprising that his marital life was shattered with quarrels. A man’s wife and children are more important than money-making and do not deserve to be given second place to it. The same can be said about hobbies.
Fascination for a hobby can easily lead a man to give it a position among his various interests that is too prominent for its relative value. When he should be thinking about more important things his mind is on the hobby, and when he should be giving time to his wife and children he is giving it to his hobby. Instead of being the least of his interests, it has become his chief interest. This is being selfish, thinking only of one’s own pleasure. It is contrary to the Scriptural instruction for husbands to be “loving their wives as their own bodies.” (Eph. 5:28) The same holds true for women and their interests.
Feminine interests have their relative positions in a woman’s life as do those of a man. A wife would be showing poor judgment if she were to allow her interest in new clothes, bridge parties, civic activities and pleasures to exceed her interest in her home. That would be placing such interests above their proper positions. All too frequently delinquent children result from mothers putting less important interests ahead of the family. On this point Detective-Superintendent J. W. Hill of Auckland, New Zealand, said: “Today, through circumstances or greed many mothers seek employment away from the home, and many seek their own selfish pleasures. In the meantime the children are left free to roam at large without adequate supervision. Can it be wondered that crime is rampant?”
The various interests that a man and woman may have can usually be cultivated without doing harm to more important things if they are kept subordinate. They must be evaluated for what they are actually worth with regard to life itself.
For example, when pleasures are engaged in moderately they add zest to living, but the enjoyment they bring cannot be intensified by devoting more time to them. As the human body is limited in the amounts of food it can take in, so it is limited in its capacity for feeling pleasure. Instead of increasing this capacity by making pleasures your chief interest, you may very well reduce it by dulling the body’s sensitivity to them. Pleasures are like seasoning in food. In small amounts they are delightful, but in large doses they can become sickening. There are more important and more worthwhile things to live for than pleasures. Your life becomes worthwhile when it has as its objective something of real value.
MOST IMPORTANT INTEREST
Although the family should be a major interest, it would be a mistake to make it the chief one. Jesus Christ pointed this out when he said: “He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and he that has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:37) By this statement Jesus was not ruling out affection for the members of one’s family. Loving them and providing for them is a Christian requirement. The apostle Paul made that clear by saying: “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.”—1 Tim. 5:8.
Life is the most important thing you possess. Without it you would be of no help to your family; you would be unable to do anything productive, and you would be unable to enjoy the things in which you take an interest. “For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Eccl. 9:5) Since eternal life comes through Christ because of his ransom sacrifice, love for him must necessarily exceed love for family. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) This promise of everlasting life is good reason for your chief interest being Jesus Christ and his heavenly Father.
What Jehovah has purposed for persons who exercise faith in him and his Son affects their eternal welfare. It means life for them. They have the prospect of seeing a kingdom under Christ ruling mankind in justice and righteousness. That is why Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matt. 6:10) At that time “the righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Ps. 37:29) The prospect of experiencing the fulfillment of Jehovah’s purposes causes the many personal interests you may have to fade into small importance. Even your family does not come before God. Rather, by putting God first you bring honor to him and blessings to yourself and your family. Interest in Jehovah God and Christ as well as in God’s purposes should have the chief place in your life. The apostles keenly appreciated this fact and adjusted their interests accordingly.
The apostles placed the purposes of God and his worship foremost. By so doing they obeyed Jesus’ wise instructions to “keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33) They knew that this was the way to divine approval and to receiving the gift of eternal life. But their making Jehovah, his Son and the divine purposes their chief interest did not mean that they ceased to have other interests.
Fishing was a principal interest for Peter and Andrew before they became apostles, because it was their means of earning a livelihood. Although the Bible tells us that they abandoned their nets when they began following Jesus Christ, we are not to conclude that they stopped fishing altogether. (Matt. 4:20) Mention is made in the twenty-first chapter of John about Peter and some other apostles going fishing on the Sea of Tiberias, and this was long after they began following Jesus. So their interest in serving God did not replace their other interests. Instead they wisely subordinated those interests to it. This is what Christians today should do.
Avoid the mistake Judas made by recognizing the folly of permitting money to become your chief interest in life. Give to it and your other interests positions in your life that are in proportion to their importance, but in the chief position put the worship and service of God. Like the apostles, “present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason.”—Rom. 12:1.