“Put first things first and second things are thrown in. Put second things first and you lose both first and second things.” –C.S. Lewis
One of my favorite authors is C.S. Lewis. And being the “quotes guy”, that I am, I love his clear and concise commentary on life and Christianity. He has a way of saying things simply that also have great depth of meaning. The reason I enjoy quotes so much is because they succinctly and comprehensibly address an issue that would take me forever to describe.
During the holiday season, I enjoy rereading his work God in the Dock, where the above quote is found. At a time when it is easy to lose sight of the purposes and centrality of God, the quote simply reminds me of what is essential in the day-to-day.
For Christians, we can easily say God is first in all things, but what does that mean for us practically? Our relationship with God is first and so the things that matter are prayer (conversation with God), church (connection to God’s family), and devotions (connections to God’s words). If we try to put other things in the place of our primary connection with God, we uproot the intended order of worshipping God solely and exclusively, trading Him for lesser things.
Often times these second things are not necessarily bad: family, friends, jobs, and hobbies, etc. These are important things that we need to devote time and attention towards. However the problem comes when we elevate them to that first position. That is a position that only God should have. We begin to degrade the foundations of our union with him.
God is constantly reminding us in His Word that we should not put anything before Him.
“We shall have no other Gods before him” -Exodus 20:3
“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.” -Phil 3:18-19
Even with these reminders it is easy to turn secondary things into God things, thus creating an idol out of something that was meant to not be primary in our hearts.
In order to keep God in His rightful place, we have to do as Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23, to deny ourselves and take up our cross like He Himself did. When we see that Jesus also set aside His desires that were out of place with God’s sole and primary worship, we see a key to what it means to be followers of Jesus, learning to order our lives like Him.
It is a daily struggle to not let the pressures of our work, the needs of our families and the fervor of our passions overtake our relationship with God. But ultimately, having those things in God’s place will only leave us frustrated and unfulfilled.
As we go to the cross, we receive grace and encouragement to seek after God as the one first and primary thing, because he has first sought after us. Everyday we need to set our eyes upon Jesus. I pray that when you feel your attention drifting to things other than God, you will ask Him to refocus your mind and spirit on Him. Keep God first in your life and all the other little things will fall into place!
Let me leave you with a verse that always convicts me and sets me in the right direction.
“He must become greater; I must become less.” -John 3:30