First Things First

Tuesday, November 23, 2021
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Mark 9:35b – Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else. (NLT)

On November 21, 2015, I experienced another first.

Firsts are important. On this day, two of my cousins brought a mahogany china cabinet to our home. The reason that it was a first is not because it's the first one that I've ever owned but because it was the first piece of furniture that my mom ever bought with her own money. She purchased it to hold the china that she was getting for her upcoming marriage to my dad. After marrying Dad and Uncle Sam calling him up, she gave it to her sister to hold for her because she had no room for it. Recently, my aunt died, and her children returned the piece. Ironically, Mom doesn't have room for it now. We have less room than she does, but because it was a "first", we squeezed it in.

Knowing the human heart's tendency toward selfishness, Jesus spoke several times about firsts. When asked what the greatest commandment was, He said to put God first. On this occasion, He was correcting His disciples, who were arguing about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus said that it was the one who was willing to become a servant.

My most important first was on August 31, 1960, the day when I sucked my first breath of outside air and entered this world. The second was nine years later when I was born again — the day when I recognized that I was a sinner and needed Jesus' forgiveness.

Putting first things first entails recognizing our sinful bent, asking Jesus to forgive our sins, and committing our lives to Him. Without this first, other firsts will be of little if any value. This first first should lead to a second first: humility. Jesus' disciples wanted to rule, but Jesus reminded them that firstness comes from serving, not lording. Pride gets us nowhere with God — or others. Humility, on the other hand, is praised by God and normally others.

When we love God above all other people and things, serving becomes much easier. Jesus says that we'll be rewarded if we offer a mere cup of cold water to someone in His name. We serve God by adopting a servant mindset. We achieve firstness by serving, even though it might appear that we're not first at all.

Amid the many things that clamour for our attention, let's ask God to help us put first things first.

Prayer: Father, as we set priorities in life, guide us to put first things first: You, our families, our churches, and others. Amen.

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About the author:

Martin Wiles <>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks Martin. Blessings.

    Have a great day, Martin.

    So very helpful to me today, Martin and necessary. Thank you for a splendidly thought-out piece of writing that I am going to save and re-read, as I have your, ‘Finish Well.’

    Martin, First of all, I thank God for your willing service and the devotionals you write then share. As St. Paul wrote, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you!” Blessings.

    Thank you, Martin, for this great devotion.
    I always like your submissions to our devotions.
    Thank you for teaching us.
    (Quebec Canada)

    Good morning, Martin,
    A very important concept for everyone to remember. When we start our day with the Lord in our thoughts and prayers, our focus will be on serving others and not ourselves. We might have to remind ourselves throughout the day to focus on God’s will, but it will happen because we know it is important.
    Your story is a good one. I wonder how the family knew that the china cabinet was originally your mother’s. The exchange would have happened most likely before your cousins were born. It is very special that you remember when you first accepted Jesus as your Saviour.
    May you continue to share your thoughts and wisdom with us all, so that we can mature in our faith. Blessings.


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