—PUT THE KINGDOM FIRST
by Ben Bailey
Today, God does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 7:48-50). In the New Testament Age, the temple of God is the church of Christ. Paul referred to the church as “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15; see also Eph. 2:19-21; 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 3:12). Since it is Christians who make up the church (1 Cor. 12:27), it is little wonder then that we are also spoken of as being the “temple of God” (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20). If the church is the temple of God today, then the principle of putting the kingdom first becomes very relevant for each member of the body of Christ. We must ask ourselves, “Are we really putting the church first in our lives? Are we doing everything we can to build up the temple of God today?”
Jesus made it abundantly clear that the physical necessities and blessings of life are directly linked to our putting the kingdom first (Mt. 6:24-33). If we fail to “build the temple first” in our lives then we are no different than the Israelites. Too many times, instead of putting God first, we give Him the leftovers. Some people have the attitude that if there are no ball games or trips planned, and if they are not too tired they might just make it to Bible study and worship on Sunday morning. Others believe that it is acceptable to forsake the Sunday evening and Wednesday night Bible study as long as they "got their ticket punched” on Sunday morning. Is this really what putting God and the kingdom first means? Absolutely not!
Putting the house of God first means that we realize the church is our main priority in life. Before we consider anything else, we ask, “How will this affect the church and my Christian life? Will these activities get in the way of me being faithful to the Lord? Will this help me or hinder me from being a faithful Christian?" Instead of giving God the “leftovers,” we must make sure we are putting God and the church in first place (Col. 1:18; Phil. 1:21; Mt. 6:33; Eccl. 12:13).
Truly, we need to seek the kingdom first (Mt. 6:33). May God give us the courage and fortitude of faith to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mk. 12:30ff).