First Things First

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The Ten Commandments on a monument on the grou...

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We know the phrase, ‘First things first.’  Understanding the principle isn’t usually the problem.  Correctly identifying ‘first things first’ is.  What ‘first things’ are first in Christian living?  Jesus gave the Great Commission in a context and setting consistent with the Greatest Commandment.  We see it in Matthew 28:17: When they saw Him, they worshiped Him. Worship was followed by a command.  This sequence is vital to our understanding.  The precedent for this pattern goes back to the Ten Commandments.

The context of the Greatest Commandment, in Deuteronomy 6, is a sermon on the Ten Commandments.  God’s people are to have no other gods before Him.  They are not to make graven images.  The entire setting of these commands is the arena of worship.  The instruction, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,” (Deut. 6:4), declares the uniqueness of God.  He alone is God.  There is no other like Him.  Only He is worthy of worship.

Moses had delivered the Ten Commandments in Ex. 20, just after escaping Egypt.  The first four commandments are the worship commands.  They give us the “how to” on loving God supremely.  If we do that, we won’t put other things before Him.  We understand this in the context of our marriages.  When we love correctly, we don’t have to be told to put our spouse at the head of all human relationships.  We understand priority is an expression of love.  Forty years after giving the Commandments, and on the verge of entering the Promised Land, Moses instructs the people: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.  God, through Moses, shows obedience flows from love/worship.

Entering the Promised Land was a watershed moment in history.  An even greater moment was Jesus commissioning His disiples to carry on His work after His ascension.  In Matt. 28:17, the disciples worship Him (first thing) as He is about to commission them (command them).  Writing on this passage, John MacArthur says, “When God is not truly worshiped, He cannot be truly served, no matter how talented, gifted, or well-intentioned His servants may be.”  Make no mistake.  It’s not worship or obedience.  Genuine worship always produces obedience. It’s worship and obedience.

That being said, are you worshiping Him today?  Is God, and what He is rightly due, in first place?

If we are not effective with the Great Commission, could it be we are neglecting the Greatest Commandment?  Maybe the most effective witness is a willing worshiper.  Think about it.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

About Keith Burnett

Keith Burnett, ROW Dir. of Evangelism, earned his Doctor of Ministry and Master of Divinity degrees from Liberty Baptist Theological Sem.