First Things First

MEMORY SELECTION: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” —Matthew 6:33

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:19-21, 24-33

EVER since the fall in the Garden of Eden, man has been imbued with the thought of self-preservation. In these primitive times practically all of his thoughts and activities were oriented in this direction. When the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2 states, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God,” he had in mind the great work of the footstep followers of Jesus—that of changing the self-centered mind to a mind that is selfless—which means, as far as a Christian is concerned, a mind or will that has completely submitted itself to the will and overruling providences of God. The Lord promises that if this is done, the reward of sowing to the Spirit will far exceed the reward that results from sowing to the flesh.

In Mark 10, starting with the 17th verse, is an account of our Lord’s experience with the rich young ruler. After Jesus’ discussion with the young man concerning the law and his obedience to it, Jesus explained what was additionally required to obtain eternal life, “Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, … and follow me.”—vs. 21

Here the Lord laid down the principle of a complete and unreserved consecration. Because of the circumstances Jesus thought it wise to ask the young man to actually dispose of his worldly possessions and completely abandon his present lifestyle and manner of living and take up the cross. The young man was being told to lay down his life in the service of the Lord, the truth, and the brethren, and to do this unencumbered with worldly possessions.

This is in essence what the Lord requires of his footstep followers during the Gospel Age, except that the actual disposition of worldly goods is not required. It is necessary, however, that the Christian’s attitude of heart and mind be that he has put in first place the things of the Lord and has abandoned in his heart the things of the world.

Our Lord commented on the difficulty of attaining to this condition of heart and mind. “And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answered) again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”—vss. 23-25

The disciples expressed astonishment, for to a natural mind (this was before Pentecost) the terms of consecration and discipleship were very harsh and almost impossible of attainment. And so they asked the question, “Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”—vss. 26,27

So the consecrated Christian is enabled to carry out the terms of discipleship, not by his own power and determination, but by the power of God operating in his heart and mind through the Holy Spirit.

But then Peter, who with others of the disciples had given up his business and land and home to follow the Lord, asked what their reward would be, and Jesus answered, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, … or children, or lands, for my sake, and the Gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”—vss. 29,30

The thought is that those making an unreserved consecration to the Lord will have, because of the Holy Spirit, a new set of values and a spiritual fellowship that will transcend material values a hundredfold. With this will come persecutions and trials, but in the end eternal life.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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