Workplace Devotionals

October 10, 2010

First things First

We know that it is our mission as Christians to serve and worship God.  When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  One way that we love God is through giving God from our time, talent and treasure.

I think that it is important to give not just of our time, talent and treasure, but to give the first and the best.  It is easy to find examples in the Bible the importance of the giving the first of our treasure.  Genesis Chapter 4 tells the story of Cain and Able.  Verse 3 says that Cain brought some of this fruits, but that Able brought the fat portions of firstborn of his flocks, the best and the first.  God’s displeasure with Cain’s offering was that he was not giving the best portion of the first as Able was.

Later, in the giving of the law we learn about first fruits offerings and tithing.  In the various feasts and sacrifices that the Israelites are commanded to make, they are told to “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.” Exodus 23:19.

Giving the first and best of our time may be harder to distinguish.  We see a story in Luke 10:38-42 of two women and the example of how they are spending their time.  While Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to him teach, Martha works to make preparations for Jesus and the others that are visiting.

Martha often gets the bad rap in this story, but lets think about her situation more. As we see in other passages in the gospels, there is often very large crowds following Jesus as he travels the countryside, and often the people are not well prepared for the journey, as there are a couple miracles recorded of Jesus feeding thousands.  Mary, Martha and their family were good friends of Jesus, so it is natural in that culture, that Jesus would come stay with them.  So with Jesus, and also staying at Martha’s house, would be the twelve disciples and perhaps dozens of others, all without food.  Martha saw this great need of all these people, and in her way of reaching out to them, began working hard to make preparations for their visit.  It’s not wise for us to condemn Martha for the work she was doing, as we often make a similar mistake of not seeing where we are failing to put God first in our lives.

Martha, then tries to tell Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help.  Again, I don’t think Jesus condemns Martha here, but lovingly tells here, that Mary has sought what is best, first.  What Martha was doing was good and necessary, but she did not put first things first.  Mary saw what was best, and saw that the most important thing to be doing was sitting with Jesus, listening to his teaching.  Mary put Jesus first, before the other “necessary” activities.

We also have this opportunity to put God first in our lives.  The Jews celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday, the last day in their week.  Christians observe Sabbath on Sunday, the first day of the week.  The Sabbath gives us the opportunity to start our week focused on God, to rest and reflect and remember that it is God who is first in our lives.  We can also remember to pray and take time for God each morning, to know that we work by His grace, for His glory.

Third, we can give God the first and best of our talent.  Our talent is often observed in the jobs that we do.  Most people are working in a job that uses one or many talents that they have.  We are able to exercise our talents in the work that we do.  When spending time at church on Sundays, or starting the day at home, or during the commute to work, it is good to remember that even in the work that we do, we are serving God with our talents.  We can give ourselves to our jobs, working hard, because it is for God that we work.  The best example of this is the verse in Colossians: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

So today, I encourage you, in the way that you use your time, talent, and treasure, give your first and your best to God, for everything we have comes from God, and we can show our love for God by giving our first and best to Him.

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