Questions we must ask ourselves…am I giving God the priority in my day? Am I starting my day (first fruits) with God by reading His Word – the Bible? What are my goals for each day? Am I seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness in my life? Do I design time with God like I do family, work and play?
33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
God promises that if you seek Him first, food, shelter and clothing will be provided to you; thus eliminating the need or the excuse to place work or the idea of working to survive ahead of seeking God first. If our basic needs will be taken care of, what would be our reasoning for placing our priority for day to day living not on Him? It would simply be to put our own personal desires for prosperity, pleasure and authority ahead of God…thus we are not putting God first.
This is difficult on a daily basis, especially when first starting, since most of us have grown up (especially in the American culture) thinking of me, me, me. For me, I know that scheduling time on my calendar first thing in the morning and being consistent with it is the only way to overcome years of habit.
If we are honest with ourselves, we would say that the reason God is not placed first in our lives is because we have other priorities. These priorities are not the same as God’s priorities for our life. When I look at my priorities, it is easy for me to say they are based on providing for my family and doing the right thing. In reality, if I was just trying to provide for my family, my day would look remarkably different. My time, emotion and energy spent with my family would be just as intentional (love that word from my good friend Pastor Joe LaCognata) as it was in the time, emotion and energy I place in work and personal pleasure.
As people, we tend to be goal or outcome oriented; we strive for things or an outcome we desire. Things like wealth, status, familiarity and comfort. Putting God first would necessitate that we change what we strive for and go after things that are of God’s kingdom; thus, not what we consider our treasures.
19Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
When we attempt to do this, it feels like a war in some ways. Most of us would acknowledge that we want to put God first; however, it is a struggle to do so as we often do that which we do not want to do. I have come to love this battle, as for me it is concrete proof of the war that wages inside of me; that of my spirit which desires God, and that of my flesh which desires self or sin. I am so grateful for Paul’s words in the book of Romans 7 that describes this battle in detail.
14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
There is a clear reason for this battle and it comes from the two natures that live inside us. It is not possible to serve or follow both.
24No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
The idea of putting God first means that nothing comes before Him. For me, and I believe most people agree, that means giving God the first part of my day. I look at it as the first fruits of each day – after all, every day is really a gift from God.