Today I’m wearing a shirt that says, “Keep moving forward.” I purchased this shirt because I often would write or preach the phrase, “Keep pressing forward,” so this shirt was destined to be worn by me. The concept of moving forward, pressing forward, is all about direction and movement. The direction is straight ahead. Despite a variance of speed, the movement is constant.
The verse for today references peripheral issues. This isn’t a discussion about having bad peripheral vision that causes one to bump into walls, which is certainly something that I could tell you stories about at another time. Instead, we look at the dangers of an obsession with peripheral issues — issues that are not most important.
As a Christian, we have this great responsibility to represent Jesus. We are His ambassadors. We are His representatives out in a dark world. Unfortunately, we too often try to be His ambassadors without allowing His Spirit to aide us. We get so busy with doing things for Jesus — serving and trying to “do good” things to show we are “good Christians.” Instead of writing His Word on our hearts, instead of allowing Him to has His way through us, we get stuck on the peripheral issues. In trying to be good, we look at what we can achieve on our own. We cross things off the list. We give ourselves gold stars. We “ignore the most important duties.” In doing so, we miss the plot.
This is something that the Pharisees did but it is something we all continue to do as well. Sadly, we can become blind to what we are doing and miss it entirely. There is great danger in become obsessed with the peripheral issues. You become so focused on doing “Christian things” that you are far from Christ. You become so intent on completing a checklist to show your “good heart” but love escapes you. The verse today is very clear — “Yet YOU ignore the MOST IMPORTANT duties of all: to WALK IN THE LOVE of God, to DISPLAY MERCY, and to LIVE WITH INTEGRITY.”
Today, ask the Holy Spirit if you are doing these most important duties. Ask Him to reveal to you what is lacking. Are you walking in love? Are you displaying mercy? Are you living a life of integrity? Do your words and deeds scream yes to these questions? Or have you become obsessed with peripheral issues? These questions aren’t only for a review of where you are with your walk with Jesus right now. These questions we must continue to return to because it is too easy to veer to the left or the right and lose our focus.
May you walk in the love of God, display mercy to others, and live with integrity. My friend, place first things first. Don’t miss the opportunity to keep pressing forward. God has a great plan for your life. Don’t become obsessed with the peripherals. Keep it simple. Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). Amen!
“Great sorrow awaits you religious scholars and Pharisees—frauds and pretenders! For you are obsessed with peripheral issues, like insisting on paying meticulous tithes on the smallest herbs that grow in your gardens. These matters are fine, yet you ignore the most important duties of all: to walk in the love of God, to display mercy to others, and to live with integrity. Readjust your values and place first things first.” – Matthew 23:23 TPT