First Things First — Bulletin Article 10.14.2007

As our minds are turned toward the precious lives of our young people this weekend, there is one lesson we should commit to instilling within them. It is a principle we all utilize, no matter our spiritual condition. Dads use it loading the car for vacation. Moms calculate it when they make their grocery runs. Children need it when placing their toys back into their toy box. When there are a lot of items that must fit into a defined space, math dictates that the biggest items must go in before smaller items. When I went to Sam’s this week to buy food, it was a tight squeeze to get everything into their supersized buggies. In order for things to fit, the two 35-lb jugs of frying oil had to be in at the bottom. The biggest boxes remaining had to be next to the oil to complete the bottom level. Only then could the rest (bags, smaller boxes, etc.) fit within the buggy. To have done otherwise would have left no room for the biggest items (or resulted in crushed smaller items).

When we view all of the “stuff” we could be doing with our time, energy, and money, we need to humbly ask ourselves what we should be doing. If we fail to put the biggest (most important) opportunities first in our lives, we will fail within them. Families fail when its leaders fail to put it in the center of their lives. Sports teams fail when its members fail to emphasize teamwork. College students fail when being in college becomes more important than being a student. We as Christians will fail when we decide there are more important things than our relationship to the Lord.

Jesus words are clear in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” He essentially says, you will have what you need when you choose to honor me before and more than anything else.

Centuries prior, Solomon outlined this principle as well. Notice his words in Proverbs 3, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil…Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” (3:5-10). When we commit to blessing the Lord with our lives, time and money—before we use those things for anything else—he will in turn bless us. Marshall Keeble is often attributed to describing it that as we shovel out the window (giving to God), God is shoveling in the door (with a much bigger shovel).

We see a picture of this principle in Matthew 8, when Jesus explained this to a disciple. “Another of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.’ Was Jesus uncompassionate toward this man’s loss? Was he calloused that the man needed to bury him? Of course not. Some scholars argue that the man’s response was a typical excuse in the first century (like saying, “the dog ate my homework”). Made up or not, Jesus makes a clear point: nothing is as important as following him. Is burying the dead important and necessary? Absolutely. Just not as important as one’s relationship to Christ. The disciple was making something more necessary than it truly was.

We must fight this same temptation every day. Grades are important, but not most important. Scholarships are important, but not most important. Social leadership is important, but not most important. Jobs and career-planning are important, just not most important.

When we begin to truly put God in our lives first, then everything else will fit into place. Go ahead and put it to the test…see if he doesn’t bless your life.

Thanks again for your efforts this weekend!

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