We jockey for position. We desire to be first in line, take first place and sit in the first chair. We do whatever it takes to get ahead of the next person and make ourselves the priority. But then we read Jesus’ words: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). All things necessary for life and every provision will come from him, but to see those needs met by him, we must put him first.
I am reminded of the story of Elijah. God provides food and water for Elijah at the Brook Cherith until it dries up due to the drought proclaimed by the prophet. With the famine ravaging the land, God gives him a command to leave that place and go to the city of Zarephath to be taken care of by a widow…
“Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”So she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’”So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah (1 Kings 17:9-16).
Elijah tells the widow to take a step of faith and lay everything she has for survival on the line in order to see the goodness and grace of God. She has a handful of flour and a bit of oil to carry her and her son just a little while longer before they will die from hunger. Yet the prophet tells her the unthinkable: “Make bread for me first, then for you and your son. God says that then you will have plenty because he will sustain you miraculously through this dry time.” Taking God at his word, she does as Elijah says, and God’s promise holds true until the rain comes and the drought ends. God essentially says, “Put me first, and I will do everything else.”
Putting Christ first is an act of faith. Putting him first is an act of understanding his position and our own as well. Putting Christ first is the practice of a servant before a perfect Master. Putting him first is an act of worship. What is your greatest need in life right now? Is it a spiritual drought? A physical lack? An emotional “empty cupboard?”
Only if we enthrone God in his rightful place in our lives will we see his power fully at work. God often reveals his inexhaustible grace most clearly when we put him first in our extremity of circumstances.
We will always worship God alone. – Exodus 20:3 You shall have no other gods before me.
We will know that Christ is worthy of all sacrifice. – Matthew 10:38-39 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
We will continually seek the presence of God. – Psalm 27:4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.