What Is Paramount in Your Life?
“Make known to me the way in which I should walk.”—PSALM 143:8.
1. What did King Solomon conclude about human pursuits and accomplishments?
YOU probably know as well as anyone that life is filled with activities and concerns. When you think about it, you can identify some of those as being essential. Other activities and concerns are less important or even vain. That you realize this means you are in harmony with one of the wisest men ever, King Solomon. After having thoroughly reviewed life’s activities, he concluded: “Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.” (Ecclesiastes 2:4-9, 11; 12:13) What significance does this have for us today?
2. What basic question should God-fearing people ask themselves, leading to what related questions?
2 If you want to “fear the true God and keep his commandments,” ask yourself this challenging question, ‘What is paramount in my life?’ Granted, you might not ponder that question daily, but why not consider it now? In fact, it suggests some related questions, such as, ‘Might I be putting undue emphasis on my job or profession or on material things? Where do my home, family, and loved ones fit into the picture?’ A youth may ask, ‘To what extent does education take up my attention and time? Really, is a hobby, sport, or some form of entertainment or technology my prime interest?’ And no matter what our age or situation, we should rightly ask, ‘What place does serving God have in my life?’ You would likely agree on the need for priorities. But how and where can we gain assistance to set them wisely?
3. What does establishing priorities involve for Christians?
3 “Paramount” has the basic sense of something that comes ahead of all else or needs to be considered first. Whether you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses or you are among the millions of sincere students of God’s Word associated with them, consider this truth: “For everything there is an appointed time, even a time for every affair under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Rightfully, that includes your showing loving concern for family relationships. (Colossians 3:18-21) It involves making honest provision for your household by means of secular work. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; 1 Timothy 5:8) And for a change of pace, you may take time out for a hobby or occasional entertainment or recreation. (Compare Mark 6:31.) Upon serious thought, though, do you not see that none of these are paramount in life? Something else is more important.
4. How does Philippians 1:9, 10 relate to our setting priorities?
4 You probably recognize that the Bible’s guiding principles are valuable aids in setting priorities and making wise decisions. For example, at Philippians 1:9, 10, Christians are urged to “abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment.” To what end? The apostle Paul added: “That you may make sure of the more important things.” Does that not make sense? On the basis of accurate knowledge, a discerning Christian can determine what should be of first interest—paramount—in life.
A Model as to What Is Paramount
5. In describing the model left for Christians, how do the Scriptures show what was paramount in Jesus’ life?
5 We find a precious facet of knowledge in the apostle Peter’s words: “To this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) Yes, for clues as to what is paramount in life, we can examine what Jesus Christ thought about it. Psalm 40:8 said prophetically of him: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts.” This is how he stated the same thought: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.”—John 4:34; Hebrews 12:2.
6. How can we have the same results as Jesus did in putting God’s will first?
6 Note that key—the doing of God’s will. Jesus’ example emphasizes what his disciples should rightly make paramount in their lives, for he said that “everyone that is perfectly instructed will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40) And as Jesus walked in the way his Father purposed, he showed that there was “rejoicing to satisfaction” in keeping God’s will paramount. (Psalm 16:11; Acts 2:28) Do you see what that implies? As Jesus’ followers choose the doing of God’s will as the paramount thing in their lives, they will enjoy “rejoicing to satisfaction” and real life. (1 Timothy 6:19) So there is more than one reason for the doing of God’s will to be the priority in our lives.
7, 8. What trials did Jesus face, and what can we learn from this?
7 Right after Jesus symbolized the presentation of himself to do God’s will, the Devil sought to turn him aside. How? With temptation in three areas. Each time Jesus replied in Scriptural, unequivocal terms. (Matthew 4:1-10) But further trials awaited him—persecution, ridicule, betrayal by Judas, false accusations, and then death on a torture stake. Still, none of these trials made God’s loyal Son swerve from his course. At a critical point, Jesus prayed: “Not as I will, but as you will. . . . Let your will take place.” (Matthew 26:39, 42) Should not each of us be deeply moved by this aspect of the model left for us, causing us to “persevere in prayer”?—Romans 12:12.
8 Yes, when we set our priorities in life, divine guidance is particularly helpful, especially if we face enemies of truth and opposers of God’s will. Call to mind faithful King David’s entreaty for guidance when he experienced enemy opposition. We will see this as we consider a portion of Psalm 143. This should help us to discern how we can strengthen our personal relationship with Jehovah and be fortified to keep the doing of God’s will foremost in our lives.
Jehovah Hears and Answers Our Prayers
9. (a) Though David was a sinner, what do his words and actions reveal? (b) Why should we not give up in doing what is right?
9 Though a sinful mortal, David had faith that Jehovah would give ear to his entreaty. He humbly pleaded: “O Jehovah, hear my prayer; do give ear to my entreaty. In your faithfulness answer me in your righteousness. And do not enter into judgment with your servant; for before you no one alive can be righteous.” (Psalm 143:1, 2) David was conscious of his imperfection, yet his heart was complete toward God. Thus, he was confident that he would receive an answer in righteousness. Does this not encourage us? Even though we fall short of God’s righteousness, we can be confident that he hears us if our hearts are complete toward him. (Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 5:14) While persevering in prayer, we must be intent on “conquering the evil with the good” in these wicked days.—Romans 12:20, 21; James 4:7.
10. Why did David have anxious periods?
10 David had enemies, just as we do. Whether as a fugitive from Saul, forced to seek refuge in lonely, inaccessible places, or as a king harassed by enemies, David had his anxious periods. He described how this affected him: “The enemy has pursued my soul . . . He has caused me to dwell in dark places . . . And my spirit faints away within me; in the midst of me my heart shows itself numbed.” (Psalm 143:3, 4) Have you had reason to feel similarly?
11. What anxious moments have God’s modern-day servants faced?
11 Enemy pressure, trials because of severe economic hardship, serious illness, or other worrisome problems have led some of God’s people to feel that their spirit would give out. On occasion their hearts too have been as if numb. It is as if individually they have cried: “Because you have made me see many distresses and calamities, may you revive me again . . . May you surround and comfort me.” (Psalm 71:20, 21) How have they been helped?
How to Face Enemy Efforts
12. How did King David cope with danger and trials?
12 Psalm 143:5 indicates what David did when beset with danger and great trials: “I have remembered days of long ago; I have meditated on all your activity; I willingly kept myself concerned with the work of your own hands.” David called to mind God’s dealings with His servants and how he himself had experienced deliverance. He meditated on what Jehovah had done for the sake of His great name. Yes, David kept himself concerned with God’s works.
13. When we face trials, how will our reflecting on ancient and modern examples of faithful servants help us to endure?
13 Have we not often recalled God’s dealings with his people? Surely! This includes the record made by the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ in pre-Christian times. (Hebrews 11:32-38; 12:1) Anointed Christians in the first century were also encouraged to “keep on remembering the former days” and what they had endured. (Hebrews 10:32-34) What about the experiences of God’s servants in modern times, such as those recounted in Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom?* Accounts documented there and elsewhere enable us to recall how Jehovah has helped his people to endure bans, imprisonments, mob action, and concentration and slave-labor camps. There have been trials in war-torn lands, such as Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia. When opposition manifested itself, God’s servants endured because of maintaining a strong relationship with Jehovah. His hand sustained those who made the doing of his will paramount in their lives.
14. (a) What is one example of God’s sustaining a person in a situation that might be similar to ours? (b) What do you glean from that example?
14 However, you may respond that you have not experienced such brutal abuse, and you may feel that it is unlikely that you ever will. God’s support of his people, though, has not always been in what some might view as dramatic circumstances. He has supported many “average” individuals in “normal” circumstances. Here is just one of many examples: The Watchtower of December 1, 1996, contained an account told by Penelope Makris. What a splendid example of Christian integrity! Can you call to mind what she endured from neighbors, how she battled severe infirmities, and what efforts she put forth to stay in the full-time ministry? What about her rewarding experience in Mytilene? The point is, Do you see such examples as helps for all of us in setting priorities, putting the doing of God’s will first in our lives?
15. What are some of Jehovah’s doings on which we should meditate?
15 It strengthens us to meditate on Jehovah’s activities, as David did. In working out his purpose, Jehovah made provision for salvation through his Son’s death, resurrection, and glorification. (1 Timothy 3:16) He has established his heavenly Kingdom, cleared the heavens of Satan and his demons, and restored true worship here on earth. (Revelation 12:7-12) He has built up a spiritual paradise and has blessed his people with increase. (Isaiah 35:1-10; 60:22) His people are now giving a final witness before the outbreak of the great tribulation. (Revelation 14:6, 7) Yes, we have much on which to meditate.
16. With what are we encouraged to be concerned, and what will this impress upon us?
16 Keeping ourselves concerned with the work of God’s hands rather than becoming preoccupied with human endeavors impresses upon us that Jehovah’s applied power is irresistible. Those works, though, are not limited to the wonderful physical works of creation in the heavens and here upon the earth. (Job 37:14; Psalm 19:1; 104:24) His wonderful works include acts of deliverance for his people from enemy oppressors, as demonstrated in the experiences of his ancient chosen people.—Exodus 14:31; 15:6.
Knowing the Way in Which to Walk
17. How real was Jehovah to David, and how can we be reassured by this?
17 David prayed for aid lest life’s moisture dry up in him: “I have spread out my hands to you; my soul is like an exhausted land to you. O hurry, answer me, O Jehovah. My spirit has come to an end. Do not conceal your face from me, or else I must become comparable with those going down into the pit.” (Psalm 143:6, 7) David, a sinner, knew that God was aware of his situation. (Psalm 31:7) At times we too may feel that our spirituality has reached a low ebb. But the situation is not hopeless. Jehovah, who hears our prayers, may speed up our restoration by refreshing us through loving elders, articles in The Watchtower, or meeting parts that seem designed just for us.—Isaiah 32:1, 2.
18, 19. (a) What should be our earnest entreaty to Jehovah? (b) Of what can we be certain?
18 Our trust in Jehovah moves us to entreat him: “Cause me to hear your loving-kindness, for in you I have put my trust. Make known to me the way in which I should walk.” (Psalm 143:8) Did he fail Sister Makris, who was isolated on a Greek isle? So will he fail you as you make the doing of his will the paramount thing in your life? The Devil and his agents would like to hinder or completely stop our work of proclaiming God’s Kingdom. Whether we serve in lands where true worship is generally allowed or we serve where it is suppressed, our united prayers harmonize with David’s petition: “Deliver me from my enemies, O Jehovah. I have taken cover even with you.” (Psalm 143:9) Our security against spiritual calamity lies in dwelling in the secret place of the Most High.—Psalm 91:1.
19 Our conviction of what is paramount is solidly based. (Romans 12:1, 2) Resist, then, the world’s efforts to impose upon you what it thinks is important in the human scheme of things. Continue to let every aspect of your life reflect what you know is paramount—the doing of God’s will.—Matthew 6:10; 7:21.
20. (a) What have we learned about David at Psalm 143:1-9? (b) How do Christians today reflect David’s spirit?
20 The first nine verses 1-9 of Psalm 143 underline David’s close personal relationship with Jehovah. When hemmed in by enemies, he freely entreated God for guidance. He poured out his heart, seeking help in the right way to walk. It is similar today with the remnant of spirit-anointed ones on earth and their companions. They consider their relationship with Jehovah to be precious as they entreat him for guidance. They keep foremost the doing of God’s will, despite pressures from the Devil and the world.
21. Why is it important for us to set a good example if we are to teach others what should be paramount in their lives?
21 Millions who are studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses need to recognize that the doing of God’s will is paramount. We can help them to understand this when discussing chapter 13 of the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, which stresses principles involved in being obedient to the Word.* Of course, they should see exemplified in us what we are teaching them. After a relatively short period of time, they too will come to know the way in which they should walk. As these millions personally perceive what should be of uppermost importance in their lives, many will be moved to take the steps of dedication and baptism. Thereafter, the congregation can help them to keep walking in the way of life.
22. What questions will be taken up in the following article?
22 Many readily acknowledge that God’s will should be of utmost importance in their lives. How, though, does Jehovah progressively teach his servants to do his will? What benefits does this bring to them? These questions will be taken up, along with a discussion of a key verse, Psalm 143:10, in the following article.
Published in 1993 by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Published in 1995 by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
What Is Your Answer?
◻ By applying Philippians 1:9, 10, how can we establish priorities?
◻ How did Jesus show what was paramount in his life?
◻ What can we learn from David’s actions when he was under trial?
◻ In what way does Psalm 143:1-9 help us today?
◻ What should be paramount in our lives?
[Picture on page 10]
David’s actions proved his reliance on Jehovah
Reproduced from Illustrirte Pracht - Bibel/Heilige Schrift des Alten und Neuen Testaments, nach der deutschen Uebersetzung D. Martin Luther’s