When He began His ministry, there were some key topics that Jesus talked about with people.
I believe that we would do well to read and think about those ‘first’ things – things that are a priority, things that should be high on our minds, things that we should pay attention to.
Here is a sampling of some of those ‘first’ things from the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John.
1. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.’ – Matt 22: 36 – 38
- The Pharisees were trying to play ‘stump the chump’. Their strategy to try and stump Jesus backfired.
- Jesus quoted the schema – (Deut 6:5) This is the first and greatest commandment.
- Love God with all that is within you – your whole person!
- Love Him with all your heart (with gusto, passion, enthusiasm).
- Love Him with all your soul (let your personality reflect Him).
- Love Him with your mind. (Read, reflect study, memorize, meditate on His Word – and let Him transform you!)
- To put this in a nutshell – Love God above all!
2. Leave your offering before the altar and go be reconciled with your brother – Matt 5:23 – 5– Why is this important?
- Part of the message Jesus was sending – You better do this or the person who had something against you will take you to court and then the matter will be decided before a judge. (like an out of court settlement) How’s that for motivation?
- We need to make amends, make peace and get things right with those we are ‘at odds’ with. Our enemies can do us great harm, and we do not want that.
- Besides getting right with people so they don’t take us to court or do bad things to us, there is the whole other side of the coin – who are you mad at? Who has offended you, or who have you offended? Have you tried humbling yourself, going to them, apologizing, doing some fence mending where there were broken fences?
- Remember Prov 4:23 – to ‘keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.’ Do your best to be at peace with the people in your life.
- In a nutshell – stay reconciled with people.
3. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things – Matt 6:33– Why should we make this our first priority?
- Is He king of your life? Or are you the king or queen of your life? If He is, then you are in His kingdom, and you need to be about His business.
- As we seek Him and His kingdom, He takes care of us (what we will wear, what we will eat). We need to live our lives advancing His kingdom and not striving & worrying.
- In a nutshell – Seek Him first and He will take care of you!
4. First take the log out of your eye – Matt 7:3 – 5– Why shouldn’t we look at the other guy’s faults first?
- After all, too often we see ourselves as flawless, and we clearly see the problems in the other guy’s life and their need to change ahead of our own.
- Instead, we need to clean up our own acts if we expect others to do the same.
- In a nutshell – deal with your own issues first!
5. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy – Luke 12:1 – 3– The kind of leaven-yeast that Jesus is talking about can spread and cause other people to also see life in a distorted way.
- Leaven here refers to corruption. The corruption referred to here is hypocrisy (where you say one thing and do something else). It is a senseless thing to do because eventually all deeds good and evil will come out into the light and be exposed.
- The Pharisees said and did things to be seen, to appear holy, and to get positive strokes from their followers, but inside they often were connivers and very fleshly.
- In a nutshell – Do as I say and do as I do!
6. Last first, first last – Luke 13:30– No favors, no good ole boy’s network, no centuries of brownie points. In fact, no special treatment for those who have been believers longer than others.
- There will be surprises in God’s kingdom. Some who were honored as great religious teachers on the earth may not be found there. Also, some who had very humble means on the earth may have places of honor in God’s kingdom.
- It’s not about how good you are, how long you’ve lived here or how much you know. It’s about WHO you know – Do you know and trust Jesus?
- In a nutshell – Be glad for God’s grace – that what saved you!
7. First sit down and calculate the cost/consider whether he is strong enough – Luke 14: 27 – 31– Is this a wise approach? Why?
- If we don’t take these deliberate steps in advance of doing something, we may be setting ourselves up for a big blunder or failure. We may run out of money before we finish the project. Then what? (Remember the Camden causeway J)
- As we follow Jesus, it will not always be easy. It will not be a cake walk. You may be rejected, persecuted and despised by some for your faith.
- In a nutshell – Plan what you are going to do before you do it.
8. Whoever among you is without sin, let him be first to cast a stone – John 8:3 – 11–
- The religious leaders tried to trap Jesus into saying something that was against Jewish Law. It was also against Roman law for them to carry out their own executions. They were ready to stone the woman (it is not clear why they didn’t also want to stone the man involved).
- Jesus urged them to slow down and consider their own lives and whether or not they too had sinned, before they hastily put to death another person.
- Jesus both forgave the woman and did not condone her sin.
- In a nutshell – Don’t be quick to judge others, rather examine your own life first.
To wrap it up:
- Love God above all!
- Stay reconciled with people.
- Seek Him first and He will take care of you!
- Deal with your own issues first!
- Do as I say and do as I do!
- Be glad for God’s grace – that what saved you!
- Plan what you are going to do before you do it.
- Don’t be quick to judge others, rather examine your own life first.