“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–8, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Author Stephen R. Covey lists “putting first things first” as one of “The 7 Habits of HIghly Effective People.” What a simple concept. Of course first things must be put first. Hard to argue with that. But concepts often break down in application, when we try to determine what are our “first things?”
The Apostle Paul used the phrase “of first importance” in describing “first things.”
- First — coming before all others.
- Importance — being of great significance or value.
So what was it that Paul considered to be of great significance that came before all other important matters? The Gospel. “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” What a simple concept, but all too often it does indeed break down in application.
Stephen R. Covey goes on to say that “the enemy of the best is often the good.” We end up spending so much time and energy on good causes or activities that we neglect or leave insufficient time and energy to a cause or activity that is not only better, but best. In his essay “The Tyranny of the Urgent,” Charles E. Hummel put it this way: the “greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”
There are many “good” and “urgent” causes, principles or behaviors in this world that are certainly deserving of a Christian’s attention – for example reversing Roe v. Wade. And I do not want to diminish how “good” and “urgent” (unborn children are being aborted every day) that cause is. It is indeed heartbreaking. But it is a symptom (a horrific one) of which the root cause is the sinful nature of mankind. We can be successful in eradicating symptoms, but unless we address the root cause, the same symptoms will either reappear, or new symptoms will take their place.
In what has come to be known as The Great Commission, Jesus commanded His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20, NIV 1984). This is the Christian’s “prime directive (chief objective),” the thing of “first importance,” the thing to be put first. All too often we get it backwards. We want to teach (tell) the lost “to obey everything [Jesus] commanded,” before we “go and make disciples (born again followers).”
My Advice – Let’s put first things first. They are “of first importance.” Let’s make it a habit to be highly effective witnesses and disciple makers.