WHO'S ON FIRST?
Years ago, I was in the dentist's office having my teeth cleaned by a very cute and bubbly dental hygienist. We were talking about life in general, and then I asked her about her family. She told me what her husband did and how successful he was at work. Then she added with a distinct note of heartache and pain, "My kids and I come second [to his work]."
Let's face facts, no wife wants to come in second to her husband's job. She does not want him to be more passionate about his company and career than he is about his own wife and kids. Every wife wants to be #1 in her husband's heart.
IT IS THE SAME WITH GOD
God is not unlike us in this way. He is not content to play second fiddle to lesser loves and lesser passions. In fact, in Luke 9, we read about three would-be disciples. They said they wanted to follow Jesus—a good thing! But, they wanted to follow with stipulations. They wanted to follow their own way. They wanted to negotiate the terms of the “follow Me” contract. They wanted to follow with a divided heart.
Jesus did not answer these potential followers with encouraging words. He did not say, "That's great! Welcome aboard. We are glad to have you any way we can get you." His response was not encouraging, it was challenging. His point to these three would-be followers (and all would-be followers) was clear: unless you are all in, you cannot follow Me. Unless you come and yield yourself to Me as Lord and Master, you cannot be My disciple. Jesus is not playing "Let's Make a Deal." He is saying, "This is the deal! If you are going to follow Me, you are going to follow with all your heart."
If something is going to come before Jesus in your life—as with the man who said, “Permit me first ....”—you cannot follow Him. Jesus is Lord of all. If other things are more important to you than He is, you are going to miss the boat.
TAKE A SOBER LOOK
As you look soberly at your life, do other things in your life come before the Lord? Has a lesser love taken first place in your heart? Perhaps it is golf, or football, or your job, or your family, or your friends, or social media, or politics, or your favorite pastime, or something else that has become your number one passion. If you and I are not careful, we can easily allow idolatry to creep into our hearts as lesser loves take the throne.
The church in Ephesus is a good example. The people were doctrinally sound and doing good deeds in Jesus’ name, but they had “left their first love” (Revelation 2:4). Jesus was no longer sitting on the throne of their hearts, and He was not happy about it. He called the church to repent ASAP.
Perhaps you are like the three would-be disciples. You want to follow Christ, but on your terms. That will never work. The only way to truly follow Jesus is through repentance, faith, and surrender. We all need to learn the prayer, "Not my will, but Thine be done."
Maybe you are a true follower, but you have fallen into the deception of the Ephesian church, thinking good deeds and good doctrine can substitute for wholehearted devotion. They cannot. The number one commandment in the Bible is to love God with all that we have. When we do that—when Jesus is clearly and truly our first and foremost love—we please Him and see Him work wonders in us and through us. There is no other way for a Christian to live.
So, as you look within ... who's on first?
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries
P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Direct questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Jeff Schreve believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a wonderful plan just for you. From His Heart provides real truth, love and hope on over 700 radio stations each day, in 149 countries each week on TV, and is always available online. Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All donations go to furthering the broadcast outreach. As a listener/viewer supported ministry, we thank you for joining with us to help speak the truth in love to a lost and hurting world. Go to www.fromhisheart.org for more information.
Beyond Ourselves: Living and Giving to the Glory of God
Have you noticed how easy it is to get all wrapped up in self? "Me and mine" seem to be the order of the day. But God has called us to live beyond ourselves. He lets us know that there are wonderful blessings to be experienced as we live for His glory and give generously to the work of His Kingdom. In this series, Pastor Jeff Schreve shares encouragement from God's Word to help us break out of the prison of selfishness and enter into the wonderful world of giving.