My son is almost three, and he wants to do everything on his own. "No, I do it" is his favorite expression. He came with me the other day to the butcher and it was no exception. He wanted to buckle himself, walk and not ride, help load the cart and unload the cart, etc. What took the most time is when he wanted to button his own jacket - except, there was one problem: he got the top button wrong. Of course when that happens, every subsequent button is off too. So we started from the top and tried again. Well...the same thing goes for our lives spiritually. We have to get first things first. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God above all else. Before people. Before anything. Why? It's because if we don't love God first and foremost, we won't be able to love anything else like we should either. If the top one is off, everything else will follow. When we get the top right, everything else will fall into place.
What if I told you that God could be seen in the most ordinary things every day?
What if I told you that everyday, ordinary events could teach us extraordinary eternal truths?
Would you believe me?
Hi, I’m BJ Sipe – and you’re listening to the Set Your Mind Above Podcast.
I am a Christian, a preacher, a husband, and a father.
Thanks for tuning in!
I don’t know about you, but meat is just getting way too expensive, isn’t it? Actually, everything is just expensive right now for that matter. Gas is up. Nearly all groceries are up. You’ve gotta take out a loan just pick up a dozen eggs now days. Listen, I love reminiscing on old times, but if every price sticker would stop taking me back to the crash of 2008 that’d be great. Our deep freeze was getting low and Kylie had asked me to run out to Walmart on Monday to just get us a little bit of chicken or beef. Could you believe that 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast was $12? Needless to say, after all of my morning studies Tuesday, I knew that I needed to head up to Boone’s Butcher shop in Bardstown for us to stock back up somewhere with much better prices. I came home to load up the coolers and Kylie asked if I would want to take Dane along with me. I said, “Sure, why not? Let’s make a guys trip out of it!” After a pit stop at one of our elder’s homes for a quick errand and lunch, we got on the road and headed towards the butcher. My son Dane is almost three now, and is very much at the point where he wants to do everything himself because he wants to show us that he is a “big boy”. Of course, there are some things that he asks to do for himself that he cannot, but I try to let him do as much on his own as is possible to develop his independence. The whole day was full of him saying, “I do it” with a face of pure determination. He wanted to climb into his own chair and buckle himself (of course I made sure it was done correctly). He wanted to walk and not sit in the cart at the butcher. He wanted to load the cart. He wanted to hand the cashier our packages of beef, chicken and pork, etc. Naturally, it’s not always the most expedient thing to let him do things that I would normally do because it takes him at least twice as long to do it, but it’s important for him to learn them. Well, one of the last things that he wanted to do is perhaps the one thing that took the most patience. After loading up the car, I realized after checking Kylie’s list that I had neglected to get any roasts, so I got Dane back out of his seat and said we needed to run in real quick one more time. The first time we had walked in, Dane had not brought his jacket and regrated it because of how cold it was inside. So this time he said, “Dad, I need my jacket.” “No problem, son, let me get it on you.” I replied. “No, I do it,” he said in his very Dane way (if you know my son, you can hear him saying it). Well, this plaid jacket he was wearing just so happened to have buttons – and he wanted to button it up. Have you ever watched a 2-year-old try to button up a shirt or a jacket before? You might as well pull up a chair because it’s going to take a hot minute. So there I stood, watching my son struggle to button up his jacket and resisting the urge to just reach down and do it myself. I checked Kylie’s list one more time as he did this to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything else, when I hear from next to me, “Tada! All done!” I look down to see my son, very proudly showing me with arms spread out like wings his buttoned up jacket. There was just one problem…he got the top button wrong. He had matched up the wrong eyelet with the wrong button at the very top from the start, and when that happens…guess what else happens? Every subsequent button below will also be off. Have you ever done that before? You button your shirt up, only to get to the last button and realize everything is out of whack and disproportionate? Hey, where did this extra button come from? Oops. I smiled at my son and said, “That was a great effort, bud. Now, let’s get the top one right and then try it again.” He did, and together we walked in one last time donning correctly aligned jackets.
Dane’s little wardrobe mishap actually has a very profound spiritual lesson for all of us, and it has everything to do starting from the top down. Let me ask you this question: what is the most important thing in this life? I would imagine I would get quite a few answers, wouldn’t I? From anything as generic as, “to glorify God” to something far more specific, the answers would range across the board. But if I asked you the same question in a different way, I’m certain we would all answer the same thing: what is the greatest commandment? Jesus gives us the answer to that question without any doubt. In Matthew 22:34-40 we read, “When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Of all of the things that Jesus ever said in his ministry, I believe we could make the argument for this being the most important. If I were to put the words of Jesus into my own, it would be simply this: love God, love people – and everything else will fall into place. We must pay attention not only to the content of what Jesus said, but the order in which he said it. Jesus meant what he said and said what he meant: the greatest and first commandment is to love God with everything that we have. But why is that the greatest? The answer is simple: if we don’t get the first one right, we won’t get any of the rest of them right. John puts it this way in his first letter: “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8) He would go on to say also in verse 11, “Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.” The truth of the matter is that if we do not know God, then we don’t know what it truly means to love. It sounds paradoxical, but for me to be the best husband I can be, I have to love God far more than I love my wife. If I love my wife first, I will actually fail her as a husband because I will not learn to love her like I should. In the same way, if I want to be the best father that I can be, I must love God far more than I love my children. If I want to truly love people, I have to first truly love God. When I get this out of order, it’s like getting the top button wrong on a jacket – everything else after it will be misaligned and not right. Every relationship, every role, every effort we make – all of it will be in vain if we don’t get first things first. Maybe it would help us to work backwards – does this describe your life? Does it seem like all of your relationships, roles, and every effort you make in your life are out of whack? Maybe if we follow the buttons, it will lead us back to the top where we’ll realize we haven’t made God our first love. If that is the case, then you’ve got to do what my son did: start from the top, get that one right, and then work your way back down again. You’ll be amazed at how everything falls right into place when you do. Love God. Love people. Then everything else will fall right into place.
Thank you for tuning in for this week’s episode, and I would invite you back every Wednesday for a brand-new episode each week. If you haven’t already, be sure to find us on Facebook for future announcements or even some special video sessions. If you have benefited from this podcast, share it with someone else that you think would benefit from it also. Until next time, know that I love you, that God loves you, and may we all each & every day set our minds above.