Only One Thing Is First 

Joshua 24:14-15

Kenneth Anderson

How simple the principle is. How easy it should be to understand. Only one thing can hold first place in our hearts and lives. Something else may be second or twenty-second, but only one thing can be first. Our biggest problem, therefore, is deciding on the priority. Once it is made and decided, everything else falls into place. Strive as other things may to fill that number one spot, they are not able to succeed simply because it is already filled by that which we have chosen to be first. Mark 12:41-44.

Admittedly, many things want to be first. Our job, our family, our recreation, and our personal desires cry for more favorable attention. Some of their demands seem justified. The very fact that they are precious to us is persuasive argument for giving them a more favorable place in our lives. We may be amply justified in giving them a better place, but we are not justified in giving them first place.

When the priorities become altered, strange and hurtful things begin to happen. A man is caught up in his work. He lives and breathes his job, and management likes to have it so. Sometimes there is no time for family life. A person can focus on his job twenty-four hours a day. It is the way to get ahead in this dog-eat-dog world; but, once he has established his priority, other things must stand aside, and, sometimes, there is a fearsome price to be paid. 1 Samuel 2:22-24; 3:11-14.

Others may focus on a hobby or a sport, but, once it becomes first, it dominates their lives. They have little time for spiritual things and sometimes no time for God because they have established a priority that leaves Him out.

Many live in a constant conflict because they are persistently trying to make more than one thing first. They are trying to fit two things – or many things – into a space that can be occupied by only one. Romans 8:5, 8; Matthew 6:24.

It is not surprising that God is a jealous God. Exodus 20:5. “… for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God;” Joshua 24:19. We are spoken of as being married to Christ. “… that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” Romans 7:4. We are commanded to deny self. We have a choice in the matter: either deny self or deny Jesus. Which will it be? Matthew 16:24.

We are familiar with the principle of Matthew 6:33. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness …” Many people do not realize that this passage is saying to put Christ and His church first. They have the strange notion that we can put God first and almost ignore Christ and the church. The truth of the matter is that the way we put God first is by putting Christ and His church first.

Some think that they can have different faiths – that they can have faith in God and faith in man or something else and that that is all right. The Bible teaches there is only one faith. Ephesians 4:5. Some think their faith is strong enough to get them to heaven, but, if so, why is it not strong enough to get them to worship God in the right way? John 4:24. If their faith is strong enough to get them to heaven, why is it not strong enough to get them to worship services and Bible study? Romans 10:1-3.

I went to a funeral a few months back for a young man who died suddenly in an accident. Several people stood up and said how much the deceased loved his family, his automobiles, and his grandchild. However, no one said anything about how much he loved God.

Something is first with every one of us – either deliberately or by default. It may be God, Satan, or self. It may be a person or an activity. It may be an attitude, a concept, or a doctrine. What is first will determine the importance that anything else can have in our lives. It will eliminate excuses and cure non-involvement. It will bring peace to much inner conflict when we firmly establish the priority, “This is first.” 

What is it? Is it self, family, personal desires, recreation, or job? Is it God, Christ, and His church? Remember, we choose our priorities; they are not forced on us. –P.O. Box 461, Franklin, WV 26807.

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