Putting first things first

When David was giving final instructions to his son Solomon he said this:

“Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the Lord.” (1 Chronicles 22:19, ESV)

First Things FirstNotice the order of the commands. Prior to building the temple, Solomon is instructed to set his mind and heart to seek God. More specifically, he is instructed to seek the Lord God. The ESV, along with most other translations, follows the Jewish tradition of using the word Lord in place of the covenant name of God which is Yahweh or Jehovah. Solomon is not enjoined to pursue spirituality, he is encouraged to seek a relationship with the God of the Bible.

It is out of the relationship with God that the service to God is to flow.

Many churches, with their emphasis upon service, have unknowingly pushed people toward getting this backward. I have been in churches where the pastor, from the pulpit, would verbally reprimand those who were not “about the Lord’s work.” The danger in this is that people serve out a sense of obligation or guilt.

Instead, we are called to be in relationship with Jesus. That relationship should shape the activities we pursue and change our desires. This change will result in the desire to serve God. Service with this motivation is a far different thing than service out of obligation or guilt.

God does not need my service to accomplish his will, nor does he need yours. In his grace, he allows us to participate with him in the accomplishment of his will.

Do not allow a church leader or anyone else manipulate you into service out of a sense of guilt or obligation. Chances are that the ministry for which the pastor is begging people to serve is not one that God thinks important. I have seen too many “ministries” that are put on life support that should have been allowed to die. Resist the urge to keep an outdated ministry alive.

Relationship then service. Keep the first thing first.