Putting God First
Duane Vander Klok
Many people miss out on receiving the blessings God has planned for them simply because they do not put Him first. How about you? What – or who – is first in your life?
“Firsts” are important to God. Remember, in the First Commandment, God said, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). Clearly, He wants to be ahead of everything else in your life. He wants you to put Him before your church, your job, your money, your “things,” even your spouse and children. He wants to be your number one priority.
Not putting God first is like buttoning your coat incorrectly: if you get the first button wrong, all the others will be wrong. The good news is: when you get the first button right, all the others will line up, too. As you put God first, everything else in your life will begin to line up as well.
First Things First
God has a wonderful benefits package prepared for all those who will put Him first. It is designed to cover all of your daily needs and keep you free from anxiety, as Jesus described in Matthew 6:25-33:
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Jesus isn’t saying that it is wrong to work for food, shelter and clothing; He just wants us to keep our priorities straight. He wants our hearts to be set on the spiritual (eternal) rather than on the physical (temporary). When we put His kingdom and eternal things first, God assures us that we will have the other things we need.
Time, Treasure and Talents
Everything we have comes from God. He created the heavens and the earth. He made us and breathed life into our lungs. He gave each of us time, treasure and talents to use while living on earth, and He will bless whatever we dedicate to Him.
The devil, however, does not want you to experience a blessed life. In fact, John 10:10 tells us that the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He will try to do whatever he can to keep you from using your time, treasures and talents first and foremost for God. But Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” If you and I truly want to live blessed lives, the devil cannot stop us!
It’s important for each of us to evaluate our priorities from time to time to avoid being distracted from putting God first. If you are not seeing God’s blessing in action, then it is especially important to consider what you are doing with your time, treasure and talents. If you are already putting God first, then let this article simply be an encouragement to keep it up!
God created everything – even time. Solomon made it very clear in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes that, from being born to dying, there is a time for everything.
The Apostle Paul wrote about our use of time in Ephesians 5:15-17. He said, “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is” (Amplified Bible).
When was the last time you stopped and reflected on how you are using the time God has given you? Think about it: are you putting Him first with your time by spending it on things that honor Him? For example, do you dedicate time every day to scripture reading and prayer, or do you watch your favorite TV programs instead? Do you spend “quality” time with your spouse and children, encouraging them in the Lord? Do you spend more time talking about weather and sports or do you talk more about what Jesus has done for you?
The Bible has a lot to say about money and material possessions. Sixteen of Jesus’ parables (and one out of every ten New Testament verses) deal with money, so it is apparent that how we feel about money – and what we do with it – is important to God.
Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Earthly treasures are temporary, but the money you spend on eternal things – like supporting the local church, sharing God’s love with orphans and widows, and reaching people with the Gospel – makes an impact that will last forever!
Think about how you use the finances God has entrusted you with. Are you faithful in honoring Him with the first ten percent? Are you using a portion of your money to take good care of your family? Do you show your thanks to God by giving cheerfully and generously to the things that are on His heart, or do you give Him what is left over after most of your money is spent?
The children of Israel dedicated the first and the best of their produce, cattle, birds, etc. to the Lord and then lived on the rest. Are you giving God your “first fruits” or your “last fruits”?
1 Corinthians 12:18 tells us that, “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” He has given every person talents and abilities that should be used to honor Him and be a blessing to others.
Too often, people use their talents only for their own personal gratification, to make a living, or to impress others. It is good to ask yourself, “Am I using my talents for the Lord? Am I doing what God wants me to do? Am I making a difference in the kingdom of God?”
Remember, life on earth is temporary. God has given us all we are and all we have – our time, treasure and talents – to invest for His kingdom and glory.
As you “seek first the kingdom of God” with your time, your treasure and your talents, you will experience the blessed life God has planned for you. You’ll see His power actively working in you, through you, and for you. His blessing will affect every area of your life including your marriage, your family, your relationships, your health, and your finances.
That’s the kind of life you can have when you put God first.
(All scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise stated.)