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The Discipline of Attention

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
- Mark 12:28
You can tell a lot about a person by their priorities. And you can tell a lot about the way people view you by what they think is most important to you.
In today’s passage a teacher of the law approached Jesus and asked a question about priorities. “Which is the most important?” he asked. This is both a question about Jesus and a question about Jesus’ perspective on God (i.e. the one who ultimately stands behind the commandments).
You might, perhaps, be familiar with this interaction. Jesus’ answer may not surprise you. Jesus’ answer may not challenge you … at least, not at first.
If someone asked you – “Of all the rules you heard in your home growing up, which was the most important?” – what would you say? Your answer would comment both on the person you are today and on the environment in which you grew up.
If someone asked you – “Of all the things your church does, which is the most important?” – what would you say? Your answer would reveal a lot about you and about your perspective on the church’s priorities.
The teacher of the law saw that Jesus was a perceptive and insightful person. He wondered what Jesus would have to say. And Jesus had a remarkable answer.
Take a few moments today to cultivate that discipline of attention. Ask yourself: “Of all the _______, which is the most important?” Pause for a beat and reflect on what your answer reveals about you and your perspective. You can do this with your faith, your relationships, your workplace, and even your health. It’s a great little exercise!

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