Are We Putting Jesus First?

Man reading

[This article was written by Jeffrey Burnett.]

Maybe it is just the fact that I am getting older, but life truly seems to get busier every year. There is so much to do and so little time to get it all done and some things just have to be put off until a later time. Our lives are filled with legitimate concerns that we wrestle with each day often leaving little time for thinking of spiritual things, and that is precisely the problem.

Because every person has a different set of obligations it is difficult to place these concerns in any order of priority. God demands that we work with our hands in order to provide for ourselves and for the needs of others (1 Thess. 4:11-12; Eph. 4:28). Paul told Timothy that “if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). Then there is the duty of parents raising children, not only being sure that they have clean clothes and good food, but bringing them up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). This is a serious job that cannot be put off until tomorrow. Most of us, occasionally, need a break from work to simply relax or get some kind of recreation to just have fun. All of these things take up our time and somehow, we must find time to give to each item in keeping with its importance.

One of the problems that develop is that we over-react to these legitimate concerns. Rather than trusting in God to keep His word, we begin to be anxious and worried about material things. We suddenly realize that we only have a few years left to work, earn, and provide for retirement and we begin to take the earning of money as our highest goal, becoming covetous to earn more and more to the detriment of our families or our spiritual lives. We can also become so caught up in sports that there is never any time for family, physical and spiritual, or for the Lord. What was a God-given responsibility and legitimate concern just became a problem because we have not learned to set our primacies properly.

This reminds me of an incident in which Jesus came to the home of Martha and Mary. While Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening the text says, “But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:40-42). Was it wrong of Martha to want to serve Jesus a good meal in comfortable surroundings? Surely none of us thinks that! Many women do this with great regularity when guests come. What better way to show hospitality than to open your home and provide the comforts of your house and kitchen to your guests? Martha was doing a good thing, but what Mary was doing was even better! Somehow, we must all learn to fulfill all of our areas of responsibility by putting each thing in its proper place of priority.

Some things are just not as important as others. Yet many consistently set their work or their family obligation on a higher level than gathering with the saints to worship God. How many have stayed home on Sunday morning because the weather was bad, but the same weather or worse on Monday morning did not keep them from going to work? How many have forbidden their children to watch any TV or go outside to play until their homework from school is done, but think little of making them study their Bible lesson? How many let the children stay up too late on Saturday night so they are just too tired to get up and go to worship on the Lord’s Day? How many have moved their family hundreds of miles to a new job only to discover after they have moved there, there is no assembly of faithful Christians in that town? Are these the right priorities?

We must believe in the words of Jesus when he said, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:25, 31-33). The basic premise behind this is simple: do not let anxiety about food and clothing distract you from more important things in life because life is certainly more important than food and clothing. Who provides our lives and our bodies? God! If He is powerful enough to create life, He is also able to provide food and clothing to sustain that life? If we worry about food and clothing, then we are of “little faith” (Matt. 6:30). But we have God as our Heavenly Father, and He knows that we need such things!

Coupled with these commands of Jesus, we find that in Colossians 1:13-20, the apostle Paul comes to the heart of the gospel and the heart of his letter to the Christians in Colossae. Paul tells us why Jesus is great and why we must follow Him and serve Him. I encourage you to pause, read and mediate upon this text of scripture. It is brought to our attention that Jesus is the king over His kingdom, Savior from our sins, the image of the invisible God, first born over all creation, the creator and sustainer of all things, head of the body (the church), the beginning, first born from the dead, the fullness of all things, and the reconciler of all things to God. For these reasons, Christ is to have first place in our families. Christ is to have first place in our marriages. Christ is to have first place in our jobs and careers. Christ is to have first place in our time. Christ is to have first place in our hearts. Christ is to have first place in our worship. Christ is to have first place in our love. You name it, Christ is to have first place in it. Christ is first in everything else in creation and He must also be first in our lives.

Please do not misunderstand me; God does not expect more from you than you are able to do. He does expect you to be a good father or mother, husband or wife, a good employee or employer, a good citizen in your community, and still put Him first in all things. When that balance gets messed up, things that are good, in and of themselves, become stumbling blocks for us and our hope of an eternal home in heaven. Take a look at your life and what your highest priorities are. Are you putting Jesus first? Are you exalting Him? We as Christians must not become distracted by fleshly endeavors, but rather “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3). Be determined to set your priorities in keeping with God’s word, first!

When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on the Gospel, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Road Trip.