Does God Occupy the First Place in Our Lives?
We need to ask ourselves this crucial question: Does God
occupy the first place in my life?
As Creator, Sustainer and Source of all good, God deserves the
first place in our lives.
Many are willing to serve God as long as it doesnt cost them
too much time or effort. They give God the crumbs of their lives,
and - as far as they are concerned - Hell just have to be satisfied
with that. But He isnt.
God never asks for more than we can give, but He does ask for
the best we can give.
Under the old covenant, when people brought sacrifices to God,
they were to offer Him only the very best. God did not accept a
sacrifice that was second-rate or had flaws.
When you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when
you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your
governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you
favorably? ... You also say, Oh, what a weariness! ... And you
bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering!
Should I accept this from your hand? (Malachi 1:8, 13). They kept
the best for themselves and gave God what they wanted to be rid
It was bad enough that they brought inferior offers, but they
also complained: What a drudgery!
If serving God is a weariness to you, maybe you are just
giving God the crumbs of your life, possibly from a sense of
obligation or fear. But God is not pleased with scraps any more
than you are. Giving God the plate-scrapings of your life can never
bring the joy of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
We must put God first in our hearts!
Jesus tells us: You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first
and great commandment (Matthew 22:37, 38).
When we give God the place of highest honor in our hearts, we
will also put Him first in our lives. We will offer Him the very best
we have. And we will find joy in serving the Lord, instead of
experiencing it as drudgery.
We must love God even more than family and friends.
Jesus said: He who loves father or mother more than Me is not
worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is
not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:37).
Sometimes we are forced to choose between Christ and others.
What if relatives or friends drop in as we are preparing to go to the
assembly? Do we say: We are going to worship God now. You are
welcome to come along, or if you do not wish to do so, make
yourself at home. We will be back in an hour or so. Or do we think,
Too bad. Now I cant go.
How we react in such situations, shows who ranks highest in
We must love God rather than the world.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone
loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).
To love the world does not necessarily mean that we love bad
things. It can simply be that we love the things of this world, that
the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches are choking
the word (Matthew 13:22).
Among other things, this means that our love for God must be
greater than our love for ourselves and our own enjoyment.
What if there is an exceptional opportunity to serve the Lord on
a day we were planning to do something for our own enjoyment?
Do we say: Im thankful for this great opportunity to serve the
Lord. Or do we say: You know, I really feel bad about it, but I
have a previous appointment.
Is our free time so filled with enjoying ourselves that we have
little time left for the Lord? If so, we are just giving God the
crumbs. We love ourselves with all our heart, not God. And God is
What if someone we know is in the hospital, but visiting hours
are the same time as one of our favorite TV programs? Do we say:
Im going to visit him this evening. He might need cheering up. Or
do we think: What a shame that visiting hours are at such an
inconvenient time! Ill try to visit him tomorrow, or maybe next
How does our Bible study time compare with our entertainment
Once when visiting a congregation, a brother took me to meet
another brother in the Lord. After we knocked, he came nervously
to the door and said: Come on in. Were watching such and such
So we sat for about an hour watching TV. Finally, the brother I
was with said: Well, its getting late. I guess we need to be going.
Our host looked away from the TV just long enough to say: Glad
you dropped in. Come back anytime. He didnt even go with us to
What do you think of the spiritual condition of someone like
That rest and recreation are needed, is not being denied. We
are discussing priorities and the difference between self-love and
love for God and fellow man.
Once when Jesus disciples had just returned from a preaching
trip, He told them: Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place
and rest a while (Mark 6:31).
Although they needed rest, as it turned out, something else
became more important. So they departed to a deserted place in
the boat by themselves. But the multitudes saw them departing,
and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They
arrived before them and came together to Him. And Jesus, when He
came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion
for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So
He began to teach them many things (Mark 6:32-34).
Notice that Jesus was moved with compassion. He had intended
to have some time alone with His disciples for rest. But because He
loved His fellow men, He put their welfare above His own comfort.
He is, of course, the perfect example of how a man ought to put
God first in his life.
There is only one first place.
We cannot give God, plus something else, first place in our
lives. That is not possible. Jesus said: No one can serve two
masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else
he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve
God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).
If we think we can have two things in first place, we are
deceiving ourselves. One or the other ultimately takes precedence
in our lives.
Mammon is the god of money. We cant serve God and money.
Is serving God more important to you than earning money? The
headache, or the fatigue, that keeps you from the assembly, would
it also keep you from going to work? What if you are offered a job
that pays much more money, but one that would keep you so busy
you would have little time to serve the Lord?
How you make such decisions shows what is most important in
Are we like the little girl who received two coins, one for herself
and one for the collection. After she accidentally dropped one of the
coins down the storm drain, she said: Oh no, there goes the Lords
For God, lukewarm is not warm enough!
These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness the
Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are
neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then,
because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew
you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:14-16).
The danger of being lukewarm is that it is easy to believe you
are all right. A lukewarm person thinks: Well, at least Im not
cold. But lukewarm isnt warm enough for God. He will spew us out
of His mouth unless we repent.
A Christian must be dedicated.
Being dedicated means to be fully committed.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that
you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,
which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
Christianity is not certain things you do, it is a way of doing
everything. The Christian gives himself fully in service to God and
his fellow man. God occupies the first place in his heart and in his
Does this mean that we should be fanatics?
No. In Ecclesiastes 7:16 we are warned: Do not be overly
righteous, nor be overly wise: why should you destroy yourself?
There is a great difference between being fanatical and being
dedicated. You want your family doctor to be dedicated, but not
A fanatic is someone who has a blind, unreasoning and
exaggerated zeal for something, accompanied by intolerance of
others. Fanaticism is a form of arrogance. A fanatic exalts his own
ideas, and will not even listen to the ideas of others.
A Christian must be patient, humble and caring. A fanatic is
none of these. He is impatient, haughty and self-centered.
We must be dedicated, but not fanatical.
Christ expects us to be zealous in good works.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all
men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we
should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great
God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He
might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His
own special people, zealous for good works (Titus 2:11-14).
Christ came to save us from sin. But it is not enough to avoid
evil. We must be zealous in doing good.
Jesus said: Let your light so shine before men, that they may
see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew
How do we put God first in our lives?
Because of our devotion, we are steadfast in Christian
activities: And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine
and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts
2:42). Steadfast means resolute and unwavering.
To continue steadfastly in the apostles doctrine we must both
know the Scriptures and put them into practice. To continue
steadfastly in fellowship we must attend the services of the church
and seek fellowship with other Christians. Each Sunday we must
feast at the table of the Lord. We must continue steadfastly in
prayer. All these activities are involved in putting the Lord first in
We put God first by serving others. Jesus came to serve, not to
be served (Matthew 20:28). We want to be like Him. Jesus told His
disciples: If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet,
you also ought to wash one anothers feet (John 13:14).
The church is one body with each members function
contributing to the well-being of the whole. Depending on our
ability, we can visit the sick, help the poor, teach the gospel, help
maintain the meeting place, or through other good works exalt God
by serving others.
Does God occupy the first place in our lives? Do we give Him
our best? Do we put Him first in our heart? Is our love for Him
greater than our love for any other person or any thing? Is our love
for Him greater than our love for ourselves and our own
enjoyment? Are we dedicated, and zealous in good works? Do we
give ourselves fully in service to God and man? Let us give God the
highest position in our lives. Amen.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive