OceanSide church of Christ
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HOW TO PUT THE KINGDOM OF GOD FIRST
Victor M. Eskew
All Christians have been taught that the kingdom of God is supposed to come first in their lives. This teaching is merely the echo of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:33. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” For some Christians, putting the kingdom of God first seems to be very easy. For others, it is an extremely difficult thing to do. In this article, we want to explore some things that will help God’s children to put the kingdom first.
One way to put something first is to use FORCE. There are many people who force themselves to go to work every day. They do not really enjoy their jobs, but they show up day after day, and, while there, they give a day’s labor for a day’s pay. They may even put in some overtime every now and then. These individuals force themselves to keep their work as a high priority item in their lives.
For a while, some individuals may have to force the kingdom of God to be first in their lives. They know that this has been commanded by Jesus (Matt. 6:33). They also know that in order to inherit eternal life they must be obedient to the Lord (Heb. 5:8-9). These individuals do not want to lose their souls. Therefore, they force themselves to make the kingdom of God first in their lives. This is not the optimal way of putting the kingdom first. Those who force themselves to do something find that there is little pleasure in what is done. Basically, they are doing it because they have to.
Another way of putting something first in your life is by UNDERSTANDING it. Most individuals do not enjoy taking medications. Yet, there are many in our society who take numerous medications on a regular basis every day. The reason they take them is because they understand what the medicines do for them. Ask a person who is on several medications what his medications do, and he will say: “This one does this, and that one does that.” One may fight high blood pressure. Another may do battle with high cholesterol. Another may thin the blood. Their understanding of the medications causes them to put their medications first in their physical lives.
If individuals would come to a better understanding of the kingdom of God, they would be more willing to put the kingdom of God first. The kingdom of God is not a physical kingdom like those of men. Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). The kingdom of God also separates all those who are in it from the evil, Satanic world. Yes, God has “delivered us out of the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of God’s dear Son” (Col. 1:13). Those who remain true to the king, Jesus Christ, will be delivered unto God the Father following the resurrection in the last day (I Cor. 15:24). If individuals would come to understand these and other vital facts about the kingdom of God, they would be more willing to put the kingdom first. The prophet of old was right! Ignorance destroys (Hos. 4:6).
Still another way to put something first is to understand the VALUE of something. My wife has a vase that is full of shells she has collected over the years from several beaches. To her, the decorative piece is of great value. When we move, this centerpiece is of top priority. It must be packed and transported correctly. In fact, it is always in the car that she is driving. Yes, value makes us put valuable things first.
If every member of the church understood the value of the kingdom of God, they would put it first. The kingdom of God is the church. The church is what was in the mind of the eternal God before the creation of the world (Eph. 3:8-11). The church is that for which Jesus shed His precious blood on Calvary. Paul spoke to the elders of the church in Ephesus when he was in Miletus. In Acts 20:28, he reminded those leaders of their responsibility to the local flock. He also described the church in interesting words to those shepherds. Listen to his inspired words: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” If Jesus’ blood is valuable, and it is (I Pet. 1:19), then the church which was purchased with His blood is just as valuable. My friends, if you are a member of the Lord’s church you are a member of the most valuable institution on the planet. The church is the pearl of great price (Matt. 13:45-46). When we understand the high price of that which we possess, we will treat it with the highest priority.
Another reason to put something first is because we see the NEED for something. Our middle daughter had poor eyesight when she was a small child. When she received her glasses, we were concerned that she would not treat them very well as a toddler. When Lauren put on her glasses, they became her top priority. Her glasses enabled her to see. She took them off with great care. She kept the lens clean. Her need to see made her glasses that which was first on her list of attire.
Every human being has a deep spiritual need. It is the need to be saved in the last day. The church is the place wherein God puts all the saved. In Acts 2, the gospel was preached in accordance with Jesus’ instructions contained in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). The hearts of many of the hearers were pricked (Acts 2:37). Peter told them to “repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Those who gladly received his word were baptized (Acts 2:41). When these individuals came up out of the waters of baptism, they were saved (Mark 16:16; I Pet. 3:21). In Acts 2:47, we learn that the Lord added the saved to the church. “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Ephesians 5:23 reveals that Jesus is “the Savior of the body.” In that same epistle, we are told that the body is the church (Eph. 1:22-23). Thus, Jesus is the Savior of the church. Dear readers, there is no salvation outside of the church. If a person realizes that he is lost and stands in need of salvation, the church becomes his priority. In fact, he will make it his top priority.
Are you seeking the kingdom of God first? Or, does the church come second? Or third? Or much farther down the list? The Lord commands us to seek the His kingdom FIRST. If you must, force yourself to do this for a period of time. Then, study the kingdom and come to an understanding of it. When you do, you will see its value and your need to be added to it as a saved person. Let’s close with the Master’s words again: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).