Summary: This is a sermon on priorities. God is to be first place in our hearts.
First Things First
Most of us live our daily life by a schedule. We carry with us our “Daily Planner” and are constantly making entries so that we will know where we are supposed to be, and exactly when we are supposed to be there! Some of us where watches or pagers that have an alarm that we can set so as to remind us of important meetings. Because of the complex and busy lives we live, such planning is absolutely necessary because there are certain things that must be done each day, and they must be done in a specific pattern, or order. It is not that we like conducting our lives in such a manner, but scheduling, and prioritizing is beneficial to us. Not only are we able to accomplish our work with less headache and hassle, but we are also more productive.
As we look at the text this morning, we find that Jesus is preaching His famous, ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ This sermon of ‘practical life lessons’ was far more than just a seminar on scheduling and how to make the most of one’s time. Rather, Jesus was teaching men how to escape the pressures and worries of this world by placing their faith and trust in the God of Heaven, and in so doing, spiritually prioritizing one’s life..
Several times Jesus begins His teaching of a particular subject with the word, ‘first.’ The word first, by simple definition, means number one. One is ‘first place,’ ‘at top of the list,’ ‘the priority.’ The definition given in the Greek dictionary for first is ‘that which is foremost.’ We often use the word ‘priorities’ to say that “…we must get our priorities in order.” Well, guess what? According to the dictionary I searched, there is no such word as priorities because there can only be one thing in first place at any given time. This is the very thought Jesus had in mind when He told His followers to “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.”
As Jesus taught that day, He sat on a hillside. Before Him was a vast multitude of people who had followed Him there. Seated before Him was a sea of faces representing a complete cross-section of humanity. There were people of different races; of different economic groups. There were people of different lifestyles and professions; people of different education and philosophies. While it may be easy for us to view them as being so vastly different from us as modern man, they were very much like us in attitude, and in the desires of their heart. They were a people who had cares and concerns; people who were troubled and often worried about the future.
Jesus, who walked among them, as the Incarnation of God; as the very One who created and sustained them, knew of their concerns. So, He devoted one third of His sermon that day to that very subject. Jesus talked about food, clothing, and shelter and told the people not to worry about any of those things because God the Father knew their need long before they ever had it. Therefore, He, who fed the sparrows and clothed the grass of the field; He who numbered the very hairs on their head would meet the physical needs of their life as they looked to Him!
Then Jesus added, But seek ye first, the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Beloved, Jesus was not suggesting to men that there be some heavenly trade-off! He was not saying that God will only meet the needs of those who favor Him with their time and attention as a some favor in return. The word declares to us that God “…causes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on the just and the unjust alike.” But, what Jesus was saying is this: “God, our Father, knows every need of our life; whether it be great or small. He is faithful to meet our needs, so therefore do not worry and fret about them. Rather than wasting time and energy fretting over the things of the world, spend that time focusing upon a relationship with God. And, Jesus further declared that there is to be but one priority! There is to be only one thing in the position of first place in our life…and that is God, Himself!
I find it interesting that Jesus preceded the word ‘first’ with the word, ‘seek.’ The word ‘seek’ means to ‘covet earnestly; to strive after.’ Both definitions suggest that a serious effort must be made. In other words, something so precious as a growing, prospering, and productive relationship with God requires effort.
Beloved, have you ever noticed that there are many things that just naturally fall into ‘first place’ in our life. There is no real effort on our part to put them there because we simply want them to be first! But, when it comes to a really meaningful relationship with God,; and one in which He is our priority, it often requires a serious and concentrated effort.