Making Room for God and His Church Day 3: Making God a Priority
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33, ESV)
He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30, ESV)
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37, ESV)
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:6, ESV)
God first. Family second. Panthers Football third. I have a shirt given to me as a gift that has this written on it. I think one of the funnier aspects is that the Panthers—while I cheer for them wholeheartedly—stink! I always think, Maybe this year, but I’m getting more and more skeptical with each passing year. But the message behind this shirt puts a spin on our true perspective: Where does God really fall on our list of priorities? We say He gets first place, but we oftentimes live much differently.
Let me give a few examples. Going back to Day 1 of our study, if we choose to spend our Sunday doing everything we want to do but fail to set aside time for church, is God really first in our hearts? Or if we spend most of our paycheck and then scramble to throw a few bucks into the offering plate, is He truly number one? And if we get angry with God for not giving us what we want, are we really living out the truth of placing Him above self and others? These are just a few simple examples, but we can find similar patterns in many of our choices.
I don’t write this from a place of judgment; I write it from a heart of conviction. I find myself making decisions that, when I examine them closer, expose priorities that don’t show “God first” in my own life. We allow people and things to crowd Him out, and then we wonder why we feel a distance when we come before Him in prayer or meet with fellow believers to honor His command to “remember Me” (in the breaking of bread and drinking the wine).
When I think of this attitude of placing the highest priority on our worship of God, I think of Abraham. He was known as a man of great faith, in connection with one very particular passage in Genesis 22. For many years, Abraham and Sarah longed to have their own child, and while God had promised Abraham that his offspring would be like the stars in the sky, they did not see this promise unfold until they were very old. Isaac was the son of promise, and he likely held a very special place in the heart of Abraham. Then God tested him when He asked Abraham to offer his son on an altar.
Is it possible that God thought this child of promise could take the place that belongs to God alone? I think there are many reasons surrounding this request from God, but through it, Abraham’s heart remained faithful; he was willing to sacrifice his son in obedience to God. In short, he chose to honor God by giving Him the proper place in his heart. This showed the love and commitment Abraham had to his God, and, in turn, God greatly blessed Abraham and delivered his son.
What is vying for first place in your heart over Christ? We all have our areas of struggle, and with some careful reflection, we will discover if we are giving God the priority that is due Him, or if it’s going to someone or something else. Whatever takes the place that is rightfully His will be an area we wrestle with. He will not bless what we place greater value on than Him. While we know that God has many attributes—all pure and holy—one He names with His own lips is that He is a jealous God.
We tend to think of jealousy only in a negative sense. Jealousy in the human heart leads to sin and dissatisfaction. But when it comes to God, He paid a high price for our redemption and He asks that we worship only Him. Not our spouse. Not our kids. Not money. Not fame. He wants the first part of our heart because He loves us more than we can begin to understand. He is our Creator, Redeemer and Friend.
May each of us be challenged to give careful thought to our list of priorities, be honest with ourselves, and make necessary changes. If God truly is first in our hearts, it’ll show up in the choices we make, our bank statement, our family, and our attitude. May we remember the price Jesus paid to rescue us from sin and hell, and thank Him with the firstfruits of our lives. He deserves the highest place of honor, and I pray that we remember this each and every day.