What does it really mean to put God first in your life?
Many people imagine their life as being made up of many boxes. We have our friend box, romance box, church box, parenting box, college box, career box, hobby box, and of course our God box. So, with this framework in mind, to put God first means that your God box is ordered before all your other boxes.
While there are certainly worse images to use to explain this idea of putting God first, this is not really the biblical way to glorify God in your life. Rather than to put God in your most important box, God wants to be first in all the other areas of your life. God wants to consume all your boxes. So he wants to be first in your friendships, in your romantic relationship, in your career, and so on.
God doesn’t want to be separated from all the other areas of your life. Rather, God wants you to glorify him through all the areas of your life. For as 1 Corinthians 10:31 famously puts it, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” When we put God first like this, we will reap massive rewards.
So here are 3 good things that will happen to you when you put God first in your life.
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1. When You Put God First in Your Life, You Will Experience the Joy of Living with No Regrets
Perhaps one of the biggest joy-stealers in life is regret. Regret robs us of living with joy in the present because we are living under the shame of our past. Regret happens when we know we missed a golden opportunity that we might never get back.
Life is meant to be a serious of opportunities to glorify God. When we live for ourselves rather than for God, we will end up looking back with regret because we will know we wasted much of our lives in self-centeredness. Notice what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31. It states:
This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.”
1 Corinthians 7 is one of those passages that constantly gets misunderstood. In this passage Paul makes arguments to pursue both the gift of singleness and the gift of marriage. But which one is better? Paul states that each person should choose singleness or marriage based upon which lifestyle will help them personally put God first in their life. It’s not really about singleness or marriage being better. Paul’s point is that putting God first is what is best. This is why he states those who are married should live as though they are not. This does not mean you ignore your spouse. That would contradict many other parts of Scripture. Paul’s point is that whether you are single, married, mourning, rejoicing, or working, you must put God first. There’s no perfect life situation that will lead to supreme happiness on its own. Rather, putting God first will result in the most joyful life possible.
So one of the main benefits of putting God first in your life is that you will know you did not waste your life. Ultimately, in the end, it won’t matter if you were married or single, rich or poor, popular or unpopular. If you know you lived your life for the glory of God, you will be able to look back with no regrets.
2. When You Put God First in Your Life, You Will Experience the Clarity and Sense of Purpose Everyone Else Is Constantly Looking For
All people are constantly living their life in search for meaning. They go from one religion to atheism. They go from materialism to minimalism. They go from doing drugs to preaching a gluten free diet. And yet their search just keeps going on and on when they don’t truly realize that God made them for himself. When we don’t put God first, we are missing our purpose and thus we will constantly feel lost and confused. As Isaiah 43:6-7 states:
I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
It’s so clear in the Bible that our primary purpose in life is to glorify God. A Christian is not called to constantly be looking for their purpose like the rest of the world is doing. Rather, a Christian is called to live from their purpose. We know why we are here and we know what we are supposed to do. We are called to glorify God through advancing his kingdom, for as Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
So when you put God first, you will experience the deep clarity and purpose everyone else is constantly searching for.
3. When You Put God First in Your Life, You Will Have a Better Chance of Receiving the Good Desires of Your Heart
There are so many more blessings that stem from putting God first in your life. But one huge benefit of truly honoring God in your heart above everything else is that this will free God to bless you with other things which he wants you to use to bring him more glory. We need to be careful that we don’t fall into prosperity-gospel theology where we just serve God to get things from God, but we also need to be just as careful that we do not start preaching a poverty-gospel either.
Serving God should never be used as a means of getting something from God. Having a relationship with God himself is the ultimate rewards. If anyone promises you that if you send them a check you will be blessed with even more money, turn the TV off and walk away. If someone promises you that if you love God enough he will make your life perfect, point them to the cross of Christ. No one has loved the Father more than Jesus, and the Father sent Jesus to the cross to die for our good and his glory.
With all that said, we must also remember that our God owns everything on earth. As 1 Timothy 6:17 states, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” Here we see that we must not love riches but we also must learn to enjoy the blessings God gives us too. The more wealth we gain the more generous God expects us to be.
More could be said about how to honor the Lord through his earthly blessings, but my main point for this article is that when you put God first, you are also increasing the chances of receiving the other desires of your heart that are pleasing to the Lord. If you desire to be married, if you desire a certain career path, or if you desire some other thing in life, you cannot force God to give you these things by serving him. He may give you what you ask for or he may not.
But it is highly unlikely God will bless you with an idol. It is highly unlikely God will give you something he knows will only pull you further away from him. It is much more likely God will give you the desires of your heart when you are truly prepared to glorify him with those gifts.
So when you truly put God first in your life, you are increasing the chances of receiving the other healthy desires God has placed on your heart. For as Psalm 37:4 states, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”