What Matters Most?

Can a person’s responsibility to others take precedence over his or her own life?

Elk Silhouette on a hill in Colorado

Interestingly, a survey was conducted by OECD (the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) of 60,000 people in more than 180 countries asking “What matters most to you?” Based on what their website shows (link further below) the responses were limited to 10 categories and then the top category for each country that was surveyed was identified.

Here are the ten categories alphabetically:

  • Community
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Income
  • Jobs
  • Life Satisfaction
  • Safety
  • Work-Life Balance

What, you might wonder, was the top category in the United States? It was “Life Satisfaction”. What about our near neighbors Canada and Mexico? Health and Education respectively. Most of the South American countries also prioritized “Education”, yet not surprisingly in these times, the top category in Venezuela was “Safety”. The countries in Africa vary remarkably in responses compared to those in South America. European countries are much more similar and were mostly in the “Life Satisfaction” or “Health” categories.

Although I can understand that each of these categories is important, more interesting to me is that my top category is not among the ten they chose to ask about. You see, for me, I go back to the most difficult days of my life and ask “What were the key factors that got me through that dark period?” The answer for me was “Faith, Family, and Friends.” In that order. Family and Friends would no doubt fall under “Community” in their survey, but where is Faith?

Looking at Paul the Apostle’s life, he risked everything including his life and his health for his faith.

In Pauls words we read:

Acts 20:24

But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

Can a person’s responsibility to others take precedence over his or her own life? Of course, and it happens all the time. Look at the first responders going into the World Trade Center after 9/11 or during earthquakes, volcanic explosions, floods, fires, etc. Look at our men and women in uniform defending our country in the Armed Services or the Police Officers attempting to save hostages in a school or office complex.

Paul risked his life for many years, even after having been imprisoned multiple times, beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked and threatened with many other dangers. You can read his words in his 2nd Letter to the Corinthians, in the 11th chapter.

Why would someone go through such ordeals and dangers over such a long period of time, eventually even being beheaded in Rome? For his faith. Because he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that his very life was a gift of grace from God through Jesus Christ who spoke directly to Paul on the road to Damascus.

As I ponder the reality of what Paul’s commitment to Jesus must have looked like I am humbled mightily. Yes, categories such as Safety, Housing and Jobs are important. But this one man, Paul, had a higher calling than even these. He knew for certain that he served the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He knew that if we build up treasures in this life they will be eaten by moths or destroyed by rust. His eyes were set on the things above, on the building up of treasures in heaven. Paul proclaimed the good news of the gospel to those who were lost.

You can see the survey mentioned above at this site: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/what-matters-most-to-people-in-each-country/

You can see why Paul was willing to risk everything by reading the New Testament in your Bible.

Author: John and Cindy O'Leary

John and Cindy live in Cave Creek, Arizona, USA. Christian ministry activities include TheWeaversHand.com, GriefShare and Alongside Ministries. John is a professional photographer. Cindy is with Honor Health in Scottsdale. Three children - Brian, Danny and Katie - and an amazing dog named Baxter.

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