Doing the "first works"

Sometimes it's a lesson that seems hard to learn. We conscientiously set priorities. We have the best of intentions. We really want to meet our proper obligations. But then, so often something else gets in the way and takes precedence. We get sidetracked. Circumstances and events seem to dictate the direction our lives are taking. And we find ourselves feeling uneasy, perhaps frustrated, dissatisfied with ourselves, disappointed with what we're accomplishing.

The ability to put first things first—and keep them there—is certainly a valuable and desirable quality in human experience. It can serve as a keystone to a productive, useful life. But it can be even more than that. It can be an essential element in working out our salvation.

Perhaps one of the reasons we often have difficulty setting appropriate priorities and then sticking to them is that the most fundamental priority may not have been firmly established before all else in our lives. And it is this fundamental priority that is also the essential element in our spiritual growth. The most important of all "first things" is succinctly stated in the initial commandment that God revealed to Moses: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Ex. 20:3.

On the way to the bus stop
September 5, 1983

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