What should be the subject of the “first” blog? I’ve devoted a considerable chunk of time pondering that question. And rightly so; after all “firsts” are important matters.
For example, consider the significance of baby firsts. EVERY first in a couples’ baby’s life is a BIG DEAL! Baby’s first shoes are so prized they are sometimes bronzed. Baby’s first words; will they be “M-o-m-ma,” or “Da-da”? Either way, one parent will be elated while the other is deflated. A baby’s first tooth, first step, first birthday, are all monumental firsts! We recently received the exciting news that Cora, our youngest granddaughter, tasted her first bite of real food! Hallelujah!
Firsts continue to hold a place of significance beyond baby-hood. After all, who doesn’t have fond memories of their first car? Even if it was an old, beat-up, faded-out, yellow and white Ford pickup, nicknamed “The Yellow Jacket!” Hey, it STILL holds a special place in my heart. Not because it was valuable or beautiful; it was neither, but because it was my first! The first day of school, first tooth lost, first communion, first dance, first kiss, first marriage (just kidding) and first job are all epic firsts.
In His famous, Sermon on the Mount, Jesus issued this indispensable imperative followed by a powerful promise, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and, his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto to you” (Mt. 6:33; KJV; italics mine). What about this “first”?
I am often amazed at how Scripture encapsulates profound Truth in an incredibly concise manner. This verse is a prime example. The individual words and phrases in this verse have profound meaning. One commentator said, “The precise sense of every word in this golden verse should be carefully weighed.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary) Perhaps in later blogs we can examine them in greater detail. But for this entry, let us consider the meaning of the word “first”.
The Greek word translated “first” in Matthew 6:33 is transliterated prōtos. It means “first in a line of more than one option.” This carries the idea of “priorities.” A biblical illustration may add insight. Luke 10 records the story of Jesus’ visit to the home of the two sisters named Martha and Mary. Martha welcomed Jesus into their home and immediately busied herself with the responsibilities associated with being a gracious host. In contrast, Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching” (Luke 10:39; ESV). Mary’s priority thoroughly ticked Martha off. So, she commanded Jesus to tell Mary to help her! I love Jesus’ reply: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42; NKJV; italics mine). Did you catch it? “One thing is needful” or “first in a line of more than one option.” In this case, that “one thing” was worship.
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus calls His followers to a single-minded, passionate pursuit of His kingdom and His righteousness in contrast to the world and its worries. Doesn’t that simplify things? How refreshing and liberating!
We live in a world that consists of a multitude of things that are constantly competing for our time, attention and devotion. Every day we must prioritize our lives, striving to keep first things first because “first” things are important. Today and the rest of your lives remember to “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.”