What Is Truly Most Important in Life

by | Dec 6, 2021 | Blog

Do you read your mail? My wife and I picked up our mail after we returned from our Thanksgiving visit in Maine. We glanced at the mail before unpacking. A newsletter from my a Watertown, New York church had arrived. Later, as I read the pastor’s message I came across his statement, “What is truly important and what is not.” What is truly important in life?

Many articles came up on a google search that listed from four to twenty items for what is most important in life. The four recurring items were purpose, time, health, and relationships. Two of these four items are relevant to two portions of Jesus’s birth narratives in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The first passage is the dream Joseph had concerning his plan to divorce Mary in Matthew 1:18-21, 24. The second passage, Luke 1:26-38, is about Mary’s vision that she would conceive and bear a son. Joseph’s and Mary’s experiences help us learn what is most important in life.

I begin with Mary’s vision in Luke. The angel Gabriel appeared to her, and his appearance deeply troubled her. She was perplexed when Gabriel told her that she would conceive and bear a son who would be the Son of the Most High God. She asked how this conception could occur since she was not engaged in sexual relations with Joseph. Gabriel told her that the Holy Spirit would be the agent of the conception. Following this explanation, Mary willingly declared, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

What can we learn about what was most important in life from Mary’s experience? She willingly gave herself to serve God’s purposes. This willing service is truly important in life. God wanted Mary to partner with Him in bringing Jesus into the world. The conception would occur without Joseph’s participation. Parenthetically, I wonder how many women today wish this were true for them. However, as we will see below, God did have a role for Joseph in her life.

Sometime after the vision, Mary conceived and started carrying her baby who was the Son of God, David’s royal descendant who would reign forever. Mary learned that her willing service to God disclosed God’s power and creativity in a way she had never encountered before. Likewise, our willing service to God opens up our lives to His power and creativity for us.

Turning to Joseph, he learned two or three months later that Mary was pregnant (Matthew 1:18). How could the one he loved be immoral and unfaithful to him? He decided to quietly divorce her so as not to publicly shame her. He had a dream before implementing his plan to divorce her. An angel appeared to him and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Mary’s baby was the result of the Holy Spirit’s in-the-womb fertilization and not from immorality. Her son would save his people from their sins. Joseph obeyed the angel’s message and took Mary to be his wife (Matthew 1:24).

What do we learn from Joseph’s response to the dream about what is truly important in life? We learn to be courageous and obey God. Joseph learned that Mary was righteous contrary to his previous assumption. God wanted him to be Mary’s husband and the father of Jesus, but their family and friends might think she was immoral, and he was foolish to take her as his wife. We learn that obeying God is more important than what people will think about our obedience.

During this month of holidays, I urge you to reflect upon what is truly important in life. We have the opportunity to give ourselves willingly to serve our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. “Therefore, I urge you, brethren, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”[1] We can imitate the little drummer boy and give our hearts to Christ. We can serve the poor, the naked, the hungry, the prisoner, the thirsty, and the stranger. I like to volunteer at a local non-profit called Caring and Sharing (https://caringandsharingsowal.org ) to assist individuals and families in need. My wife and I also donate to the organization. You can volunteer in your community and donate to worthy organizations.

I urge you to be courageous and obey God, especially, in our world where public opinion makes so many of us fearful. Focusing on public opinion, peer pressure, or what other people think, adds fuel to our fears. Giving free reign to fears steals our joy and peace. Fears paralyze us and short circuit innovation and creativity. What is truly important in life is dispelling our fears by choosing to obey God like Joseph did. It did not make his life easier, but his obedience aligned his life with his Creator. He and his family fled their homeland, lived as refugees in Egypt, and then returned to their own country. Joseph trained Jesus to work with his hands, eyes, and brain as a woodworker. It is an honor and responsibility today for parents to mentor one’s son or daughter.

When you open and read your mail you might find a message from God that helps you discover what is truly important in life. Do you need to welcome Jesus into your life like Mary and Joseph? Do you need to give yourself willingly in service to God? Is this the month you choose to live courageously in obedience to God? Do what is most important in life. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and Happy New Year.


[1] Romans 12:1.





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