More than 20 million copies of the remarkable book of Stephen Covey (see photo), The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, were sold. In short: Habit 1 is: Be proactive. You can choose how to respond to whatever happened to you, you can choose to elevate your life. Habit 2 is: Begin with the end in mind. Begin today with the image of the end of your life in mind, how you want e.g. to be remembered at your funeral. Habit 3 is: Put first things first. First things are those things you find of most worth. If you put first things first, you are organizing and managing time and events according to what is important to you. It happens day in and day out. Your week’s tasks are based on importance rather than urgency, with the End in Mind, according to your vision. When your family is important to you, you don’t want to be so busy that one day your grown-up child may say to you: “I never knew you.”
In the Bible we are also commanded to: Put first things first. I mention a few: Jesus says that even if someone is merely angry with his brother, or scold him, he is already punishable. Then Jesus follows with: “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23 – 24). Here we see how important it is to God that we shall live in peace. If you are “offering your gift at the altar” it means that you ask God for forgiveness of your sins. But Jesus says that you must first make peace with your brother, only then you may ask for forgiveness of your sins, only then you can rely on the sacrifice which Jesus had brought therefor.
To John it was revealed about Jesus: The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life (Rev. 2:8). Jesus is the First and the Last, the one who died on the cross on our behalf. John writes: We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19).
Jesus points to our daily worries regarding for example food and clothing, and then says: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Jesus says: “seek first the kingdom of God ” This is what must be put first, before any worldly things which may dominate our lives and about which we may worry. The kingdom of God is the most important concern in our lives. When people ask Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life“, what the purpose of life is, he says: “In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body – but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.”
To firstly seek the kingdom of God is to start each day with the end in mind; to think of the day when I’ll stand at the gateway to heaven. Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. … And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt. 7:21 – 23). What can be worse than to hear: “I never knew you.”
We thank You, Lord Jesus, that You have loved us first. Amen