Who are you putting first?
By S.J. Black
Several years ago you could not go to a Christian meeting or fellowship with other believers without hearing or seeing the question, "What would Jesus Do?"
I recall, that at the time, this was a "hot item" and people had everything you can imagine from bumper stickers to bracelets to coffee mugs, reflecting this question. Many a places the entire question would also be substituted by its acronym - "WWJD?"
In reality, I'm apprehensive about the latest "trendy things." Most of the "trendy things" seem very commercialized and more about a profit motive, than sharing God's word.
However, I loved the emphasis that was out there for some time that challenged people to consider Jesus in every decision in their lives. To tell the truth, I wish that people were still wearing their shirts and drinking from their coffee mugs.
The book "In His Steps" from which this popular statement came had a very profound effect upon my life after reading it.
The reason that I mention the "WWJD" fad is that the Lord has been challenging me lately with a question when it is time to make a decision.
The question is simply, "Who are you putting first in your life?"
It was several weeks ago that the Lord first challenged me with this question.
I have been making it a point since the first of the year to stick with a regular schedule of reading my Bible every day.
After trying several different times during my day, I finally figured out that the best time during my day to read was early in the morning.
Basically, I get to work before anyone else and spend ten or fifteen minutes reading. My strategy right now is to read two chapters a day until I get through the entire Bible.
The first time that God put the thought of, "Who are you putting first" in my head was one morning after I arrived at work.
The day before I had to stay home from work because one of my children had been sick.
Missing a day of work makes life really tough because while you are at home, your co-workers are still in the office filling up your in-box, sending e-mails, and leaving you voice mails.
As I arrived at work that morning I was very tempted to skip my reading that day to get started on sorting through the messy stack of paper that I had previously called my in-box. It seemed that if I got started I could get caught up and worry about my daily reading if time allowed that evening.
This is when I had a crystal clear thought that was almost like a voice in my head. The thought was, "Who is more important to you? Who are you putting first in your life?"
Basically, I forgot about the in-box for about 15 minutes and got my Bible out to begin reading.
To be honest, I do not think that God really cares for the most part whether I read my Bible in the morning, at lunch or in the evening.
I chose the morning because I like to start off my day by getting my focus on God and growing in my relationship with Him.
Getting my focus on God in the morning helps me think about what I do and what I say as the day unfolds.
The morning is also when I am at my best. [For someone who is a night owl it would likely be better for them to have chosen the evening to read.]
The lesson God has been teaching me here really is one about keeping the correct priorities in life.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 - 34,"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
It is difficult at times to keep the correct perspective about things in the world today.
We should all be honest in answering the question for ourselves, Are we seeking first the kingdom of God?
Or are we seeking other things and using whatever left over time there is at the end of our day for seeking God?
What God really desires is not the most talented person or the most gifted person; He wants those who are willing to be available for Him. God is looking for the person who truly wants to seek His Kingdom first, even if it means putting his or her own desires aside.
For example, back in my school days I always excelled in mathematics and/or anything that was even remotely related to math.
However, English was a subject in which I always struggled.
While I could sleep walk through a math class and make an A, English classes required substantially greater effort to make even a B.
Perhaps this is why I find it so odd that the Lord would call me to write articles for a website.
To be honest, writing is not what I would choose to do if it were up to me. But this is what God wants me to do and that is why I write.
Writing is not something that I would have imagined I was capable of doing at all a year ago. Some days I still wonder if I am capable to be honest.
Also, this is not something that I would have even known how to seek after if I had wanted to do so.
There have been many evenings that I really would have preferred to be reading a good book rather than struggling with the right way to articulate a thought for an article. This is not to mention how miserable a good case of "writer's block" can be.
What God wants are people who respond when He calls in a way that resembles Isaiah 6:8 "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
When the Lord calls, are you willing to say "hear am I? Send me?"
Personally, I am more like Moses when God appeared to him in the burning bush more often than I would care to admit.
The story of God appearing to Moses in the burning bush is found in Exodus chapters 3 and 4.
To summarize the story quickly, God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand that he let the people of Israel go free.
Moses appears to believe that God has called the wrong man. He starts giving God a long list of reasons why God should find someone else for the job.
Like I said above, I don't care to admit that this is similar to my reaction when God calls me to do something at times.
Though the excuses I give and the questions I ask may be different than those of Moses, they are just as bad.
What if someone calls or e-mails asking for Godly council on how to deal with an issue or a temptation?
Are we "too busy" at the moment, and decide to return the call with the left over part of our day?
These are the times that God has been challenging me with the question, "Who are you putting first in your life?"
What about the person that God is opening the door for us to witness to?
If the opportunity arises, do we always seize the opportunity or are we worried about offending the person because they might believe something different than what we believe?
"But this might hurt my career if I am known as a "Bible thumping" type" we might argue.
Yet God asks, "Are you available? Who are you putting first in your life?"
God's word tells us, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)
So do we truly believe God's word enough to act on what He tells us?
This is what God means when He is asking me "Who are you putting first in your life?"
Each day I am learning to trust the Lord more and more.
Perhaps one day I will always respond without hesitation when the Lord is asking "Are you available?"
One final thing to consider is something that I have noticed since the Lord began asking, "Who are you putting first in your life?"
When I make an effort to put aside my doubts or fears, I more often than not get a blessing in some fashion.
Even when God is calling me to help someone else, somehow the act of helping others always manages to bless me as much or more than those He has called me to help.
Honestly, I don't always understand how or why this is true. Yet, it has been proven to me many times.
If you want to live a life that is more focused on living out God's will for you, I would suggest that you begin asking yourself "Who are you putting first" when it is time to make a decision.
It will definitely affect the way that you respond to people and situations as you go through your day.