First things first. What a common saying! If you were raised in the generation in which I was raised, you probably heard that saying somewhat frequently. I will let your own memory serve to bring examples to mind. Yes, certain things were to be first. Then, something else would follow.
The actual definition of the word first is:
Being before all others, with respect to time, order, rank, or importance
First is a priority word.
In the Christian life, there are some things that should be first.
When Jesus was asked by one of the lawyers what was the greatest commandment, He replied:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. Matthew 22:37-39
Our love for God should always be first. And then our love for our neighbors.
Likewise, in Revelation 2:4, when Jesus rebuked the church at Ephesus, after commending them for all their good works, He declared:
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Yes, our love for Him is the most important. It is first. Be sure, a thousand other things, often “good” things, will try to usurp that place, but we must not allow it. First things first. He must be first. He is our Lord and Savior! He is worthy! He is preeminent! He must be first!
But, what I would also like to draw our attention to is a brief phrase in 1 Timothy 5:4:
… let them first learn to show godliness in their own household … (ESV)
This phrase is set in the context of care for widows. Children, grandchildren, and family were to learn to first care for those widows in their family. Those widows were a priority … they were to be cared for first … before others outside of that family. It was a truth which needed to be learned. Those widows had cared for their families, and the families were now to care for them.
Embedded within that truth is the priority of family. Let them first learn to show godliness in their own household. In our homes, with those who live in our homes, with our own family members … it is there where we are to first learn to show godliness. Those family members are priority. We are to love them and care for them as the Lord cares for us. It is there where we are to show godliness. Does it ever seem as though those are the most difficult people? But it is there where we learn. They are a priority because God Himself created the family. He created the man and the woman to be joined as one flesh, and from that union to bear children. Yes, the family was God’s design! It is a priority.
It is so easy to let all of the things outside of our homes draw us away. Just as they can draw us away from the Lord, they can draw us away from serving our families. We get our priorities misplaced. We can be so busy “doing good things” outside of our homes that we fail to show godliness within our homes. I have been there … far more often than I wish. What then is the solution? When Jesus rebuked the church at Ephesus, He also gave the solution:
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works,
Recall that those at Ephesus were commended for many good things. However, they had left their priority … loving Jesus. Their instruction was to remember, to turn back to Him, and do the first works of loving Him once again.
It is the same for us with our families. If we have forgotten that it is there where we are to first show godliness, loving them and caring for them as a priority, we should remember, turn back, and get first things first.
Does this mean we do not serve outside of our homes? Absolutely not! Though some may tire of that Proverbs 31 woman, I never do. She always encourages me. She is a woman who lovingly fears the Lord … She is a woman who does her husband good and not evil all the days of her life … She is a woman who lovingly and diligently cares for her children … She is a woman who looks well into the ways of her household … Yet, she is a woman who reaches out her hand to the poor and needy … And she is a woman who speaks with wisdom and kindness.
May I submit to you that she is a woman who keeps first things first!
Lord, help us all, by your grace, turn back where we need to and put first things first!