Matthew 6:24 says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
It is impossible to have split loyalties. All it does is cause grief and confusion. You cannot hold on to the things of this world and serve God at the same time. As the scripture says, “A house divided against itself will fall.” The key to having God’s best for you is to keep Him first in your life. He has got to be your first love. Christ must have the preeminence in your life. I often like to say that you can tell how much someone loves God by looking at their day planner and their checkbook. In other words, the way someone spends their time and their money is a good indication as to how great their love for Jesus really is. So, how do we as believers make this work? How do we keep God first in our lives on a daily basis? I have put together 5 simple ways in which we can put God first. I am sure there are other things that can be added to this list and I invite your input.
1. Have a daily Sabbath Hour
Just as we set one day each week aside for the purpose of worship, prayer, and the study of God’s Word; we should also set aside at least one hour each day where spend time alone with God. The best time to do this is in the morning before we start our day. Begin each day with a time of quiet devotion and worship. This Sabbath Hour should include: meditation, prayer, and Bible study. By starting each and every day in God’s Word and in prayer we will be more apt to mediate on the things of God throughout the day. Our thoughts will be filled with God and His Word. This will affect our attitudes and the way we live out our day. It is interesting how you can tell when someone has been with Jesus. A person who spends time with God every day has a certain glow about them. When they walk into a room, you can sense the presence of God all over them. Why? Because they have been with Jesus. Can those around you tell that you have been with Jesus? Do you start each day with a time of communion with God? If you do, it will show in the way that you live.
2. Invest in God’s kingdom, not in earthly riches
It is easy to get caught up in material things, especially in our culture. However, we need to understand that those luxuries will not last. We should be content with food, clothing, and shelter. Everything else is extra blessings. The greatest investment that anyone can make is the investment in the work of the Lord. Unlike earthly treasures, investing in God’s work has eternal benefits. Do you put God first in your giving? Are you faithful to tithe? Is the first check you write each month your tithes and offerings to the Lord? Does your checkbook reflect how much you love Jesus? Not only are we to invest our money in God’s kingdom, but we should also invest our very lives. We should give of our selves and of our time to the work of the Lord. Do you find yourself too busy to participate in serving God? If so, then something needs to change. Are you faithful to the ministry of the local church where you attend? Are you an active part or are you just a spectator? Does your day planner reflect how much you love Jesus?
3. Be a God-pleaser, not a people-pleaser
As a pastor, I personally struggle with this one. I want people to think of me as a good pastor. I have a strong desire to meet people’s needs and to show them that I love them. However, often times my motives are in question. Do I serve others in order to make myself look good and to please them or do I serve others in order to bring glory to God? What do I do when I am fully convicted by God and His Word to do or say one thing, when everyone else wants me to do or say something different? It is a very difficult spot to be in. However, if God is really to be first place in our lives, we must live to please Him and not others. People pleasing will only lead to burn-out and stress. It cannot be done. Since we cannot please everybody, then we should strive to please only one and that is God. Don’t worry about what people think of you. I heard someone say once that we should not be so concerned about being audited by the IRS, rather, we should be concerned about being audited by God. This is true in every area of our life. We should not be so concerned about people’s assessment of us; rather we should be concerned about God’s assessment. It is better to please God than man.
4. Die to yourself daily
As believer’s in Christ we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God on a daily basis. We are to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We must understand that we are dead to sin and self and alive in Christ. Most of everyday, the first thought that comes to my mind when I wake up is this simple phrase: ‘This is the day the Lord has made, whatever comes my way today, I choose to rejoice and be glad in it.’ We should start everyday of our lives with a fresh commitment to God. Everyday is a new day with new opportunities to glorify God. The mistakes of yesterday are in the past (and for me, they are many). But, each day is a new day. No matter how big of a mess I made things yesterday, today is a new day. We must choose each and every day to die to ourselves and let Jesus live in and through us. Have you done that today?
5. Learn to love
For me, loving people is not that difficult. I really do not know of anyone that I hate. I really do not know of anyone that I can say that I do not love. However, showing love to people is where I personally struggle. Expressing love is a hard thing to do. For example, I love my wife more than words can describe. I tell her that I love her probably 50 times a day. But, I struggle with the showing of love. How do I show her that I love her, not just with my words, but also with my actions? I really do love the people that I serve as pastor. I have great burdens for them. I spend many restless nights thinking and praying about the issues facing my congregation. But,I struggle with showing that love. I am not a very personal person. My greatest weakness is often found in one on one relationships. I am sure that I am not the only one that struggles with such things. That is why, in order to put God first, I must learn to love. How do we love? By loving Jesus first. The more we love Him, the more our love for others will naturally flow. The more we love Him, the more our love for others will be expressed in our actions. So, I have learned, that instead of trying to come up with ways to show love to others, I should just work on my personal relationship with God. I should focus on my love for Him. When I do that, then the expression of love to others will just simply flow through me without me even knowing it. Therefore, we should learn to love by loving Jesus.
These are just a few ways in which we can put God first. Is God first in your life? What areas do you need to work on? Are there other things that you would add to this list? If so, your comments are appreciated.