First Things First

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

In his 1967 book, The Tyranny of the Urgent, author Charles Hummel taught his Christian readers to navigate the constant tension between the urgent and the important. He stressed the fact that the urgent things in daily life tend to crowd out the important things and that, while everything may be “urgent,” not everything is “important.” Would you agree with that?

Quite often we find ourselves with wrong priorities. Unsure of our direction, we often double our speed. However, the value of life is not increased by increasing its speed! There are times we need to give heed to God’s Word in Psalm 46:10a, “Be still, and know that I am God….”

Our priorities and what is truly important to us is revealed in how we spend our time. For example, we may say that the Bible is important to us, but do we spend more time on the computer or the cell phone than we do in God’s Word? We may say that worshiping the Lord in the assembly of believers is important, but are we more concerned with sports, leisure, hobbies, or other activities than we are with church attendance and involvement? Our calendar and our checkbook really tell the tale on what is most important in our lives.

Here are some simple yet helpful thoughts on priorities in the Christian life.

1. There is a time and a place for every good thing.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

As Christians, we must learn to schedule our time properly. Again, we seem to always make time for those things that are important to us. If you say that you don’t have time to do something, basically you are saying that it’s not important to you. The person who truly wants to do something finds a way; the other kind finds an excuse.

2. Determine what is truly important.

“But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

You know the story; the Lord Jesus Christ had paid a visit to the home of Mary and Martha. We find in the narrative of Luke 10 that both of these dear ladies were doing important things. Mary was sitting at the feet of the Lord “and heard his word” (v.39). Martha, on the other hand, “was cumbered about much serving” (v.43). She was busy with serving and taking care of all the details. When Martha complained to Jesus that Mary had left her to serve alone, Jesus spoke to her the words quoted above in verse 42. But He also pointed out to her that she was anxious and worried about “many things” (v. 41). In short, serving was important, but not as important as what Mary was doing – spending time with her Savior.

3. Take care of first things first.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33a).

The lesson is simple yet profound: If we will give the Lord first place in our lives, all of the other things we are so often concerned about will fall into their proper place. If we put spiritual things first, temporal things will follow. If God’s kingdom, God’s will, and God’s desires are first and foremost to us, then all of our earthly needs will fall into proper perspective. Not me first, but He first!

So often we are frustrated because we find ourselves overwhelmed by a “to do” list where we scratch one thing off the top and add two more to the bottom. The only alternative to frustration is to be absolutely sure that what we are doing is the will of God. Otherwise, we may be just spinning our wheels. Remember, inside the will of God there is no failure; outside the will of God there is no success.

Let’s strive with all our hearts to keep “first things first.”