Make a list of the things and people in this world that you are most attached to. Perhaps you'll jot down your family, your job, your hobbies, or your volunteer work. Now take a few minutes to ask yourself a very serious question: “Do I ever place these people and things in my life ahead of God?” Be honest.
St. Paul invites us to reflect on questions like this in today's second reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians.
He begins by reminding us that “time is running out.” Isn't that essentially true for all of us? Life on this earth doesn't last forever. As we listen to the news, speak with other people, and go about our daily business, we're continually reminded that our time here is limited.
Paul continues with some advice that might seem confusing at first:
From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,
those weeping as not weeping,
those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
those buying as not owning,
those using the world as not using it fully.
Notice that Paul does not suggest that husbands leave their wives. He does tell anyone to stop weeping, rejoicing, buying, or using the world. He is not advising Christians to stifle their emotions, quit their daily routine, cease to engage in business, or avoid relationships with other people.
Instead, Paul is urging us to get our priorities straight. We need to put God first in our lives. We need to love Him before all else and above all else. We need to make sure that nothing or no one takes the place of God for us.
How might this play out in “real life” situations? We may love a person dearly, but we must not let that person control our lives, influence us negatively, or draw us away from God. We may weep for a loved one who has passed away, but we must not let grief consume our every waking moment. We may rejoice over our successes at work or school, but we must not become overconfident and arrogant. We may own and enjoy personal possessions, but we must not hoard them or obsess over them. We may interact with this world and enjoy the things of this world, but we must control them rather than letting them control us.
Above all, we must carefully and honestly examine our priorities and continually ask ourselves, “Does God occupy first place in my life?”