Who or What Comes First?

Dr. Don Sisk

It must have been a difficult task for Elijah—asking a widow woman for her last meager meal. Before this, God had provided for Elijah through the ravens and the brook Cherith, but the birds stopped coming and the brook dried up. It might have been uncomfortable asking the widow to feed him before she fed herself or her own family. But if Elijah did not challenge the widow to give to God first, he would deny her God’s blessings. God had promised Elijah that if the woman would be obedient, God would supply for her through the famine.

I have heard more than one missionary or someone on a mission trip after seeing poverty stricken people say things like, “These people are too poor to give.” But I have observed God bless people who, regardless of their meager fare, began to give to the work of the Lord. The churches of Macedonia, though poor, were an example of giving in 2 Corinthians 8:1–2, “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” Giving is not just the luxury of the rich, it is also the privilege of the poor.

Jesus promised His disciples that if they sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness that He would supply all their needs. Regrettably, most people believe that they must first take care of themselves, and then they can do things for the Lord. The Bible, however, teaches us that if we will receive from the Lord, we must first give to the Lord. God promises in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

God asks us to give to Him first because He desires to be first in every area of our lives. When we are saved, Jesus becomes present in our lives. Yet Colossians 1:18 states clearly that God desires more than a presence or even prominence—He wants the preeminence. He is to be first above anyone or  anything.

On the first day of the week our Lord was resurrected from the dead. On the first day of the week the early disciples gathered to worship. On the first day of the week the disciples were instructed, “Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” We are commanded to bring the first fruits of our labors, not the leftovers. First place is the only place for the Lord, and He alone is worthy of first place.

Mature believers know life is not about themselves. John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Paul declared himself to be the least of all the apostles in 1 Corinthians 15:9, “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

In Ephesians 3:8 he said he was the least of all the saints, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” And in 1 Timothy 1:15 he refers to himself as the chief of sinners, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

The more Paul grew in the Lord, the smaller he became in his own thinking. I have often heard men say of themselves, “You have to take care of number one.” Who is number one in your life?

I am amazed at the number of Christians who treat the Great Commission as a suggestion. Worldwide evangelization is not something we do if we have time and money after we have taken care of our “important” tasks. This is the one task that the resurrected Christ emphasized. It is more than a program in our church, it is the program of the church. This was first with our Lord, and it should be first with every Bible-believing church. The untold millions remain untold because we have not made God first. Give of your best to the Master; Give Him first place in your heart; Give Him first place in your service; Consecrate every part.

Give, and to you will be given, God His beloved Son gave; Gratefully seeking to serve Him, Give Him the best that you have.